Monday, October 29

Don't Be Afraid of Hats



The hottest thing in fashion these days, especially for men, isn't the scarf.  It's the hat.

I love the look, but have never thought that I looked good in a hat.  Sure, a backward baseball cap on a Saturday morning to hide bed head is one thing, but to wear a hat as a fashion item always intimidated me.

But I love the look ... so I've tried and tried but just couldn't bring myself to it.

Until I walked into a Goorin Brothers hat store when I was visiting San Francisco and the sales guy actually clued me into something.  Everyone can look good in a hat, provided that it's the RIGHT hat.  Ahhh.

Sure enough, he pointed me to the right direction for just the right hat and it worked.  It was such a fun shopping experience, that I just had to walk out with one on my big 'ole head.  Now I don't wear it all the time, but when it's appropriate and looks the part then I'm in a hat.

Now I'm not sure that this hat trend is here to stay, but go ahead and embrace it anyway.  Have fun with the accessories of the moment and express a little personal style.

Try it!  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Friday, October 26

Mission to the Edge of Space



I've resisted writing about this because I honestly didn't really get it.  And I'm still not sure that I do.  But after finding out in a meeting the other day that this was created and "sponsored" by Red Bull then I obviously just have to comment.

Red Bull Stratos -- a high altitude (to say the least) sky dive.  It's been all over the news, but how did I miss the Red Bull part?

This was a huge jump, scientific study, and social experiment ... but a brand experience too?  Evidently, and evidently in the works (with a ton of planning) for a very long time now.

I get the stunt, I really do.  It's very Evil Knievel.  (if you are too young to know who that is, please don't tell me!)  And I get the scientific study.  I am sure that researchers learned a lot from this.

But is it cool that this is basically branded content?  What if the mission had gone awry?  Sure, Red Bull lives on the edge, but is this too much?  Is the edge of space too far?  If it had been a disaster, would people feel differently about the brand?

So many questions -- and I'm really not dissing it at all.  I love innovation, and this is innovation at its finest in many ways, and it got hundreds of millions of "hits."  It just brings up so many branding questions for me.  Questions that perhaps are rhetorical, and maybe that's the point.  It got me thinking about how far can a brand go without losing its audience.  How far can a brand go?  It seems that Red Bull may have just pushed out those limits.

I do think, though, that part of the problem here is that Red Bull didn't really get enough of the "credit."  The stunt was so big that it over shadowed who brought it to life, overshadowed the team that's been working on it for quite some time.  It seems to be consistent with the brand's strategy, but I don't know that the brand got enough of the credit.  Or then again, maybe I'm outside of the demographic :)

What do you think?  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Wednesday, October 24

Dinner For Two



Dinner for two ... for two nights that is.

Olive Garden, a favorite brand from my book, just released a special promotion where you get an extra dinner to take home for the next night.  Dinner for two for $12.95.  Can't beat it.


I love how the brand took a simple and perhaps over used idea - buy one get one free - and put not only a spin on it but also their brand stamp.  Dinner today and dinner tomorrow - an ownable and enticing variation on the age old BOGO promotion.  I love it!

What I respect about Olive Garden is that they know who they are, and they know who they appeal to. Families and friends.  Families and friends spending time together, breaking bread together, sharing pasta together.


The not so little additional emotional benefit of not having to cook tomorrow night either is such a great promotional overlay ... totally in keeping with the brand.



Love the copy - "tonight be social, tomorrow make a date with a flat screen!"  A nice young feel, yet still very Olive Garden.

Many a marketer has rightfully argued that deep discount promotions, like a buy one get one free, could ruin the brand's equity.  Not when it's served up this way!


What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Monday, October 22

How To Tie A Scarf





I'm on this personal style kick lately, so I hope you are tracking along with me.  Personal style is a big part of your personal brand, so I take it pretty seriously.

Those of you who know me know that I love to wear scarves.  Outerwear scarves yes, but indoor scarves as well.  Light scarves, heavy scarves, big scarves, little scarves.  Spring, summer, winter ... and definitely the fall.  There's nothing like a scarf to add a little personal style to whatever you are wearing.

The key is to tie it correctly so that it looks like you know what you are doing yet not trying too hard either.  You want your personal style to look natural on you.

Here's a great little resource to learn how to tie a scarf a number of different ways so that you can change up the look ... or better yet make it work with the particular style of scarf, because there are many.  Just click here to learn nine different ways.

You can also watch this little ditty as well:


Remember not to overload though.  If you've got a lot of other stuff going on (like a wild graphic t-shirt, or a big belt, or colorful shoes), then skip the scarf.  One one or two (at most) gimmicks at a time!

I love the look, I really do.  I'm wearing one today, but part of the magic is in mixing it up ... don't wear one every day because then it just becomes a uniform!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Friday, October 19

Bodyform Responds

Now this is a brand that makes some bold moves.  Bodyform - a feminine hygiene brand out of the UK that clearly has a personality and a POV, and a willingness to go out on a limb for its audience.

In direct response to an errant post from a male observer, the brand released this piece of advertising - much to the delight of its fan base and marketing admirers worldwide.



A great example of not only how a brand should be paying attention to consumer interactions in social media, but become a part of it towards a total brand experience.

Well done.  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU


The post from Richard that started it all

Thursday, October 18

The New Political Advertisement



I've long been a hater of political advertising ... it makes me really not like this time of year.  I've written blog posts to prove it.

But this year seems to be different, mostly because the politicians are using different techniques to be snarky, and I at least have to respect them for their creativity.

One execution in particular has been floating around social media this week ... and it's good.  Political messaging and taking sides aside, it's just a cute creative idea.

Although it was created by folks wanting to see Obama win the election, it's labeled as if it comes from the Romney camp and it promises to provide details on Romney's plan.  The clincher is that the details are impossible to access, hence the hook (and the message).

Check it out here at RomneyTaxPlan.com.  It's the modern day version of the political ad, although so much more impactful, interactive, and some might say convincing.  Without all of that "I authorized..." fair balance.  And no robo-calling.  Yuck.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

PS - I have to give Staples an honorable mention for jumping on the pop culture phenom of "binders" -- the brand quickly ran an online promotion featuring 30% off all binders.  Impressive.

Wednesday, October 17

The Debate



The joke was on me last night as I watched the second Presidential debate.  After much debate myself, I finally decided to host another Twitter party at #DebateExp, thinking that I could avoid the politics and just talk about the marketing surrounding it all.  Of course I totally forgot that the Debate is commercial free!  Whoops.

But it was still fun to read all the comments and to get a sense of people's sentiment on Twitter ... at least until I fell asleep at around 10:00EST.  Waking up the next morning to all the commentary is equally as fun.

I did notice a few observations.  As a culture, we've gotten very witty.  At least in 140 characters or less.  I find that amusing, encouraging, and entertaining.  Not sure why, but I do find it hopeful that we are so engaged on such an intellectual level.  It takes a lot of intellect to be witty.

We also observe and comment through our own lens.  We can't help it.  So your "going in" bias completely drives how we are going to view and comment on these things.  We just can't help it.  That's ok as long as we acknowledge it, and accept it as part of our "brand."

I couldn't help but notice the bright red carpet and think of E!  They own the red carpet and I wasn't the only one who made that connection.  Proof of the power of pop culture.

As for the branding, it was hard to tell.  I thought that the candidates would be more clearly branded but I personally could not really differentiate.  Maybe that's just me or maybe I dropped off too early.  Plus Obama had on a red tie and Romney had on a blue tie ... got me all confused.

The best marketing of the night actually never happened, and it came from Pizza Hut.  The brand ran a promotion to give away a prize to whomever asked the candidates if they liked pepperoni or sausage.  Hilarious, although a bit disrespectful.  So much so, apparently, that the criticism caused the brand to take the promotion out of the Debate and online, quickly dying what felt like a slow death.

Pop culture moment has to go to Binders ... as in notebooks. The comment from Romney has become a pop culture sensation over night, sure to influence marketing, social media, and Halloween costumes for weeks to come.  Can anyone say Staples?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Tuesday, October 16

Beer and Pizza Pairings


This is a follow up post to my recent observations about the marketing of the Fall season.

Following the long standing protocol of pairing food and wine, or wine and cheese, or basically anything with wine ... the restaurant chain Bertucci's just came out with a very interesting beer and pizza pairing menu system, with Samuel  Adams beer and tied to the Fall.  Very interesting.

First of all the whole notion of pairing beer and pizza together and helping customers come up with great food choices in and of itself is a great idea.  Who couldn't use a new suggestion of how to try a specific beer with a specific kind of pizza?  I'd personally love to know what goes with my favorite pepperoni or pesto pizza.

But to then do it with a high quality (some would consider) "micro brew" (well not really anymore) is brilliant.  Tying your brand's food quality to that of another is brand equity sharing at its finest.  And making it relevant to what's going on in people's lives (the Fall) makes it even better.  For some reason, I've always personally tied Sam Adams to the Fall (not sure why).

Since they are seasonal offerings, they are designed to get us all to jump in and try the restaurant before they are no longer available.  The items sound deliciously "Fall" gourmet, which again is upping the ante on the brand equity:
- butternut squash and blue cheese pizza with Irish Red beer
- potato and bacon pizza with Boston Ale beer
- roasted mushroom and asiago pizza with Cream Stout
- spicy salami pizza with Latitude 48

Awesome!  Here's the kicker ... the multigrain crusts are made from the same barley and grains used in the beers.  Score!  What are we waiting for?

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Monday, October 15

Wearing Schwag

I actually had to look up how to spell this word:  schwag.  I've heard it so many times through the years, but I'm not sure I've ever seen it in writing.

According to Wikipedia, schwag means:  promotional items given to employees, visitors to trade shows, etc.  You know, those tacky fake polo shirts with a company's logo on them ... I've made many of them through the years!  And t-shirts, hats, pens, pads of paper, mugs, etc.  The list goes on, and if you are like me there's an office cabinet full of them.


Now you know I love branding, and you know I love logos.  But here's the problem ... this isn't fashion and it certainly isn't personal branding.  So just like my recent post about men NOT wearing flip flops, I must once again make a statement about wearing schwag.

There is a time and a place for schwag.  Like when exercising or cleaning the garage or sleeping or lazying around on a Sunday afternoon.  Or even, dare I say it, at a sales conference when everyone else is wearing it too.

Or if you are in college and you're wearing your school pride, then that's ok too.  When I visit Penn State, all I see is Penn State schwag and it's fun.

But to work?  On a night out?  On a Saturday afternoon spending time with family and friends?

NOOOOOOOOOO!

Schwag is not clothing, and it's not fashion.  It's meant for a specific purpose which is not to be paired with a pair of khakis and worn to the office or on a date.

Please guys, have a little personal style.  Pay a little attention to your personal brand ... no schwag please.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Professor, NYU

Friday, October 12

Election Marketing

'Tis the season, I suppose. With the election just a few weeks away, we are getting bombarded with election marketing day in and day out. 

Sure a lot of it is about the candidates, but there is also a lot of activity coming from brands who are capitalizing on the pop culture moment. I thought I'd highlight a few of my faves here, just for a little election day fun.

Manhattan Storage - being po
litical is a major part of their brand experience so there's no time like the present to continue the aggressive outdoor and online campaign featuring witty quips about the candidates. There's no question what color this brand is. 

7-11 - speaking of color, this huge convenience store brand is continuing its previous election campaign by tracking cups it sells. You can pick a blue cup or a red cup to reflect your own views. As one of the largest sellers of coffee and soda, this is pretty big.  Question is whether this is a predictor of the final results!

The fact that these brands are doing election marketing isn't the only point ... The fa
ct that they've tied it so close to who they are as a brand makes it all so brilliant.  They've got my vote (sorry, just couldn't resist).


What's your experience?  Jim. 


Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect
Marketing Professor, NYU




PS - Jet Blue has been doing some mobile marketing in NYC to support the campaign.  Bringing it to the peeps

Thursday, October 11

Meme and Enterprise

I love when people toss around buzz words, it makes me not only giggle but chuckle.  Now there's a word you don't hear very often:  chuckle.

I even wrote a whole section in my first book about it:  Buzzwords Need Not Apply.

The problem with buzzwords is that they lose their meaning.  They become such standard fare and batted about so much that no one remembers what they are supposed to mean.  It cracks me up.  I even stopped someone (politely) the other day and asked them what one of them meant.  I couldn't really get an exact answer.  Exactly.

I actually have two favorites right now:  Meme and Enterprise.  I hear them all day long, and I'm sure you do too.  What exactly do they mean?  I mean, I know what they mean ... but what exactly do they mean when they get used constantly?  Try it ... ask different people and you will definitely get different answers!

I was in a meeting yesterday, and much to the collective giggles (not chuckles) of my colleagues I actually kept track of how many times the word "enterprise" came up.  I lost track after 20 minutes and 8  mentions.  I kid you not, all chuckles aside, it gets rather .... irritating, don't you think?

What's your favorite buzz word of the moment?  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Wednesday, October 10

Does This Brand Make Me Look Fat?

The NFL released their new uniforms for the 2012 season, designed and created by Nike.  This is not a new event, the brands have collaborated many times in the past with new uniforms to launch a new season.

But this year is a little different.  Nike decided to use their new "body-contour fit" technology to (I guess) make the players look better, except it ran into a little drama.

So what's the problem?  Many of the players think the new uniforms make them look fat!  Sure, the slim and fit guys probably love how the new cut makes them look, and in fact they look pretty darn good.  A nice aspirational look coming from an aspirational brand like Nike.  But the big guys (and they are BIG) are not so happy.  They are complaining about how their guts are hanging out, and how it highlights their love handles!

Who knew these guys could be, shall I say it, vain?

So is the brand going back to the drawing board?  No, they say that the uniforms are meant for players of all sizes.  Indeed.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Tuesday, October 9

GQ for Gap

File this under "surprising match ups!"

GQ (as in the fashion magazine) recently launched a limited edition line of menswear at select Gap locations and at Gap.com.  The line features items designed by "the best menswear designers," (GQ would know) and as the magazine states, "gives them the opportunity to reach a massive audience."

The line is quite impressive.  Like the leather bomber jacket by Lindeberg for $348.  Lindeberg, wow!

I happened to be walking by the 5th Avenue location in Manhattan on Saturday and noticed the displays.  The collection even had a separate entrance and entirely different, distinctive merchandising.  A little bit of Gap and a little bit GQ if you can imagine that.  Gap is obviously taking a page out of J.Crew with its highly designed line of menswear with its own unique look, and separate merchandising strategy.

Quite smart, actually, even though the pairing may seem a bit mis-matched at first.  High end fashion meets everyday casual?  Yup, I think that's the point.  Perhaps this will put Gap back on the map.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

PS - I popped into a Gap when I was in Philly and bought these awesome cargo pants ... slim cut with an army motif.  Fab.

Monday, October 8

NBC News Targeting

I taught Day Two of my weekend intensive class at NYU this past Saturday, and as usual I really enjoyed the experience.  Since the students come from all walks of life and countries around the world, hearing their perspectives on marketing is so enlightening for me.

We spoke a lot about getting to know your consumer, which is a constant ongoing pursuit that never ends. It's the marketers daily duty.

The key to consumer learning is to look at both the demographics and the psychographics of your target ... we need to understand both the facts and figures about our consumers as well as the attitudes and behaviors.  In fact, it's the psychographics that are generally more telling.

Evidently we are not alone in this thinking.  NBC News just announced that they are no longer just going to target their audience based on demographics, something that up until now has been a generally accepted practice.  So instead of just targeting by age, income, sex, and geography, they are going to target their audience by the behaviors they exhibit when searching for, gathering, and consuming the news.

Smart.

So news junkies who constantly sweep online sources for the news will be targeted and nurtured by NBC differently than those who just seek the news once in the morning or in the evening.  Regardless of their age or sex.

The truth is that just because people share a demographic classification does not mean that they are at all alike.  In fact, it's more likely that people who share a common belief or behavior are more likely to be similar and hence look for similar products and services.  Just because two women are both the same age and live in the same city doesn't mean that they have anything else in common.  But two people who share a desire to be constantly connected to the news are likely to have a lot in common, and can be marketed to accordingly.

I find it very interesting that NBC News is shifting their outlook, particularly at a time when it seems that they are struggling.  Getting closer to your consumer is always a good bet in times like these!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

Friday, October 5

The Debates - Best in Show

I was going to have one of my Twitter parties during the first Presidential Debate the other night (#DebateExp), but I decided against it for fear of it being too much to handle ... go ahead and say it ... Chicken!

But now I wish I had because it would have been easy to do my typical "Best in Show".  "Best in Show" from a marketing standpoint, not to pick a "winner" of the debate.  But having watched the debate and then following all of the comments after, it's SO easy for me to do it anyway.

Best in Show from the Debate is ... Big Bird!

Sesame Street hasn't gotten this much attention in years.  All sparked by Romney's comment that he will cut funding for public television.  People are coming out in droves to defend PBS, recounting childhood memories of Big Bird and Julia Child, and talking about how important it is to this generation as well.

This is brand equity in action, watching your loyal fans come to your defense all based on an emotional connection.  Not just a product, not just a television network, but an emotional experience that has had value to their lives.  Big Bird (and Ernie and Elmo and and and) are all more than just characters, they stand for something and people are standing up for them.  Me, I always loved Bob!


Now the whole debate about PBS funding is a separate issue in my mind.  Just look at the power of the Sesame Street brand and its admired spokespeople!  I'm not even sure that they need the funding and I know of many a brand that would step in with support.  I just love seeing marketing in action.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Professor, NYU

Thursday, October 4

Stealing the Show at The Debates

Last night was the first Presidential Debate for this election period, and although I'm not a huge fan of these things, I do like to view them from afar.  While these debates don't help me sort through the issues at all (for me it all mushes together), they do cast a bright light on the candidates' brands.

Just look at how it all opened up ... Obama saying Happy Anniversary to his (now famous and beloved) wife and then Romney making a witty joke about it.  Both candidates trying to firmly establish their brands right from the start.  And then Romney came out fighting.

The rest of the night was really just about both sides jockeying for position, trying to make sure that their brand stayed intact.  For me, no one stood out ... and it certainly didn't help me to understand either brand better than before.  But that's just me.

But of course I'm more into the marketing, and there was a tiny little event that happened on Twitter that stole the show.  From brand KitchenAid of all places.

Now we should know by now that we have to be careful on Twitter ... many a brand has gotten itself in trouble from a random tweet.  Remember the note about Detroit drivers awhile back?

Midway through the night a tweet from KitchenAid landed that basically slammed Obama, noting that even his Grandmother thought it was bad and died a few days before he got in office.  Ouch.  Wow.  Ouch.

Interesting that a brand would have a point of view like this, as we've discussed quite a bit as it relates to Chick-fil-A.  Of course I doubt that it actually came from the brand itself, probably whomever was actually doing the tweeting.  Clearly that person has a point of view, but does that match that of the brand?  I have to give props to KitchenAid, though, for handling it swiftly and openly ... they've been paying attention!

It's a good lesson, once again.  Not only did we learn a little bit about branding (or the lack of differentiating them), but also a bit about brand behavior (or the lack of matching to brand equity).

Either way, yet again an example of "marketing is a spectator sport!"

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Professor, NYU

Wednesday, October 3

The Marketing of Fall

I love the change of the seasons, and I particularly love the marketing that comes with it.  This Fall has been no exception ... it's been an onslaught ever since the day after Labor Day.  And I love it.

Suddenly every time you turn around it's another brand pushing Fall ... everything is pumpkin from the pumpkin spice lattes to the pumpkin ice cream to the pumpkin filling display at the grocery store.  Everything is apples from apple pie to apple cider to apple chewing gum.  And everything is Halloween costumes (and candy) ... from nurse outfits to Batman to ghosts.  Plus let's not forget the fashion advertising from sweaters to jeans to scarfs to desert boots.  Love all the layers.

It's true ... Fall is a buffet of traditions based on the seasonal varieties with a load of marketing that comes along with it.  Now the question is how much of it is Fall driving the marketing activity or is it the marketing driving the Fall behaviors?  Probably a little bit of both.   I encourage you to stop (and smell the harvest) to observe your own behavior and how much of it is marketing-driven, of the seasonal variety.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU