Tuesday, December 30

A Very Special Holiday


The holidays were different for me and my family this year.

Here's an article I wrote for Huffington Post.  Hope you all had an amazing holiday season.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, December 29

Product of the Year - the Selfie Stick

Anyone who predicted that 2014 would bring the death of the selfie had it wrong, sorry to say.  The selfie is alive and well at every party, tourist attraction, and college campus on the planet.

We've now got filters for selfies and how-to's on selfies.  It's selfie mania.

Kim Kardashian announced the release of her own book of selfies ... titled Kim Kardashian Selfish.  It's due out April 28, 2015.  Stand in line?




Even Ellen ceremoniously created the most popular selfie ever at The Academy Awards this year.




The selfie is not going to die.  Which is why I have to give Product of the Year 201 to the selfie stick.



That's right, ladies and gentlemen.  You can't make this stuff up.  The selfie stick was all the rage on the streets of New York this holiday season.  They've gotten worse than umbrellas for poking out people's eyes.

Sorry, I had no choice but to make the selfie stick the Product of the Year 2014.

Do you have one?  What's your experience?  JIM.

Sit and Stay Awhile


I put a lot of thought into my work space.  I think it's a vitally important reflection of your personal brand.

So much so that I'd like to recommend you make it a New Year's Resolution ... to make sure your work space accurately reflects who you want to be.

Here's an article I wrote for Entrepreneur on the subject.

Ask yourself ... what's your experience?  JIM

Saturday, December 27

Brand of the Year - Honey Maid

Every year I pick the brand that I believe made the most progress forward during the year.  And honestly, every year it's easy pickings for me.

This year is no exception.

Honey-Maid.  #ThisIsWholesome



I love what they did this year.  No new product introductions, no major innovations...just good clean marketing.

And a real, honest, and accurate portrayal of the American family.  Every one of them.

And a real, honest, and authentic response to grief from those who didn't see the American family the same way.  I was sad to see that those kinds of feelings still exist but happy that the brand stood up for its consumer.


The brand was a staple in my house when the kids were young, and thankfully the brand gave me a reason to bring it back home this year.

Love it.  #ThisIsWholesome ... they even tied their marketing back to their products, as well they should.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, December 19

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2014


I wrote over 200 blog posts this year, and as the saying goes...I love each of my children equally!

As I reflect back on the year, there are a few topics that stand out as my favorite blog posts of the year.

10:  NYC Dads Group:  Such a great experience...more to come on this front!

9:  Come in Through the Front Door:  A lesson in perceptions and a lesson in priorities.

8:  Brands Defending Their Customers:  Brands show their human side and their humanity.

7:  Outdated "Gay" Terms:  We've come a long way, baby.

6:  Lessons Learned from Joan Rivers:  I still miss her.

5:  HelloFlo.  The brand example I've cited most this year.

4:  Lock the Back Door:  Life in the empty nest.

3:  #HowToDad:  Yup, they got it.

2:  Beauty is Earned.  Profound.

1:  A Tribute to Sophie:  Sigh.

All the ups and downs and everything in between.

Happy New Year!  What's your experience?  JIM

Top Marketing Moments of 2014


Marketing is a spectator sport, and there was a lot to see this year!

Here's my annual countdown of the top marketing moments of the year...a review of the brands that had us all talking, engaging, sharing, and hopefully buying.

10:  Share a Coke:  The promotion of the summer. Even I got a kick out of it when someone gave me a "Dad."

9:  Perfect Brackets:  Turned out to be a safe bet during March Madness.

8:  A Gay CEO:  Apple CEO comes out, and so does Apple.

7:  Jimmy Fallon:  It's all about the video, baby.

6:  Brands for Sale at P&G:  One man's trash is another man's treasure.

5:  The NFL and CoverGirl:  When one brand's crisis becomes another brand's problem too.

4:  Barbie in Sports Illustrated:  Yet another milestone for this brand icon.

3:  #LikeAGirl:  Putting a spotlight on gender perceptions.

2:  The Ice Bucket Challenge:  While I'll admit I didn't get it and I didn't do it, I'll also admit that I'm in the minority.

1:  The World Cup:  Has soccer finally made it in the US?

Anything you'd like to add? What's your experience?  JIM.

Geico Push It

We seem to be inundated with "sequels" in advertising lately...campaigns that flow from one to another, trying to borrow a winning formula from a previous execution.

But like I mentioned with the Kmart holiday work, sequels rarely match up to the original. And I'm afraid that's the case with the new Geico "Push It" campaign.

I've gotten a bunch of posts telling me, "I don't get it." I don't either.

It's sort of sad because Geico has built a (marketing) reputation for creating really engaging campaigns that extend beyond advertising, pushing into our pop culture. "Push It" doesn't do that I'm afraid.

People tell me that they don't know what it does. Well one thing, here we are talking about it.

Take a look:


What do you think? What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, December 18

Electronic Holiday Cards

(this article also appears on Huffington Post -- click here if you prefer to read it there)

'Tis the season to exchange greetings...and for me it's one of the best parts of the celebration.

As the world has gone digital, so too have holiday greetings. And I'm okay with that, particularly in business. My inbox is flooded with electronic cards wishing us well, from colleagues I know well to those who I've just recently just met. It's a lot of fun to see what people can do creatively in the electronic world...in business.

For work, the electronic greeting card makes a lot of sense...especially for those of us who travel or are not in the office all of the time.


But I have to admit that I feel very differently about the personal side of holiday greetings. I have to be honest and say that I don't really like electronic greetings from family and friends. Sure, I'll take them and I will open them and I am thankful to hear from everyone...but I don't enjoy them as much as the ones that I get to open in the snail mail.

Especially the ones that have pictures of the family.

Maybe I'm old fashioned that way. For years, I agonized and sweat-ed out the details to put together our holiday card with a picture of the kids. It was a lot of work getting the right photo, getting it printed, signing each one, addressing the envelopes, and yes licking the stamps.  Licking! I was so happy when I could switch to the self-adhesive variety.

Which is why I appreciated each and every card that I received as well. Especially the ones that were hand signed.

Now those days are over for me...the kids are grown up and they'd kill me if I asked them to do a holiday card. But that doesn't mean I don't want to receive and see the ones from my friends. Bring it on! 

I toiled for twenty years dishing those puppies out, and I want to see yours! The old fashioned way, if you are up for it.

I want to get paper cuts as I open the envelopes. I want to chuckle as I read your type-written year-end recaps.  And I want to marvel at how much your kids have grown in the past year.

Please don't send that to me electronically. They pile up in my inbox right along side the rest of my to-do list. Don't take that thrill of the mail box away from me.

It's the holidays! It's tradition!

And I guess it's now up to me to reinvent my holiday card, from the empty nest!

What's your experience?  JIM.

PS - I am loving all of these year end video recaps that people are doing/sharing.  Love them!

Wednesday, December 17

Kmart Holiday Advertising

I have to admit, Kmart has had some standout advertising the last couple of years, particularly during the holiday season.

I mean let's face it, they had us at "I shipped my pants."

Technically, I don't even think that was advertising but when the viral video went so viral, it translated over to broadcast.

I think the same thing happened with "Jingle Bells" for Joe Boxer for last year's holiday season.  That was a big hit ...


Sure, it came with a little controversy but I think that was the point.  Social media was jingling too.

The brand came back this year with a sequel.  Like most sequels though, it's not as good as the original.


IMHO it just doesn't stack up ... it doesn't have nearly the same combination of holiday naughty and nice.  In fact I wasn't even going to mention anything until I got a text (a series of texts actually) from my daughter at college.  All of her friends had been talking about yet another sequel, this one with "dancing pregnant ladies" and she persuaded me to write about it.

I do what I'm told.

True, I'm scratching my head on this one.  It's certainly part of the campaign, and it's certainly drawing a little attention.  And it's certainly communicating mobility and comfort, also part of the campaign.

But dancing pregnant women?  For the holiday?

I don't know ... you be the judge.


Entertainment?  Hype for hype sake?  Are you rushing off to put a pair under your tree?

What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, December 16

Facebook's Most Shareable Moments of 2014

I just love year-end lists ... and this one from Facebook is right there among the best.

It also, not so subtly, reinforces what the brand is all about ... sharing.

After all, if it isn't worth sharing then it just might not have happened!

Click here to look at the video, and to relive what we shared the most this year.

It's fabulous.  Happy Holidays.  What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, December 15

So How Was Your Year?


It's the most frequently asked question around this time every year ... how was your year?

I answered that question in a post for Entrepreneur.

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.

Happy Holidays ... what's your experience?  JIM

Friday, December 12

It's Just Another Video

I don't care how much we say times have changed, and they have, many of our emotions have not.

Life is still a struggle and we all still have obstacles we have to overcome.  Like telling people "I'm gay."

Here's a video from YouTube sensation Connor Franta ... telling the world that he's gay.  To hear him struggling to find the words is nothing short of inspiring, and reminds me of my own struggles back in the day.  Even today for that matter.

As he says, "it's just another video" ... but a raw reminder of what we each have to go through.

Let's hope it inspires others to accept themselves and to accept others.

What's your experience?  JIM


Wednesday, December 10

Best Places to Work


For the second year in a row, my agency received "Best Places to Work" honors from PRWeek.

It's the best award you can get, IMHO.  In fact it humbles me.

I wrote a post about it for the Cohn & Wolfe Blog ... click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM

Monday, December 8

Canada Goose


It suddenly turned cold in New York this week, seemingly out of the blue.  I know that I shouldn't be surprised, it is December in the Northeast after all.

But forget about the weather, I'm witnessing fashion marketing in action and I'm fascinated by it.

The brand Canada Goose is everywhere.  Everywhere!  So much so that I asked a friend who owns a retail clothing store if there was a huge sale or something at the outlets.

He laughed at me.

It's the hottest thing since Hunter Boots, evidently.

This is fashion marketing in action ... you see something you've never heard of before and it barely hits your radar.  Then you see a few people who you personally think are cool wearing it too, and it becomes something that you are "instantly" aware of.  Then you see it on "everybody" and you suddenly want to join the club.  This without ever seeing a stitch of advertising or promotion ... just people on the streets.  Very cool streets at that ... which is exactly why they are wearing the brand.

Throw in an easily recognizable and iconic logo, and you're good to go viral.

Just like with Hunter Boots.

I did a little digging.  These folks know cold weather, and they know how to talk to us.  Their T.E.I. system helps you select the depth of protection you need, based on the weather you face.  As is says on the website, "For anyone who’s braved a polar vortex, been caught in a sudden downpour, or chilled by an unexpected breeze, a jacket is so much more than just a jacket."  Never mind Canada, that's 7th Avenue in NYC!

Does this mean I'll be wearing Canada Goose soon?  Maybe.  Or it'll be under the tree for someone in my family, either way.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Sunday, December 7

Lessons Learned from Black Friday

We've seen tremendous changes in "Black Friday" over the last few years, with roller coaster results as a result.

It's time to take a step back and take some stock.

I wrote an article about it for Entrepreneur.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM

Friday, December 5

Lufthansa Promotes Berlin

In a very unique campaign to promote its new service from Sweden to Berlin, Lufthansa airlines offered people a free trip to Berlin along with a whole new life ... and a new name.

The video describes it all.

Is it complicated?  Sure ... a lesson in how complications aren't always deadly.

Is it risky?  Hell yeah, I can see many a client getting scared by the concept.

Is it totally cool?  You be the judge.  What's your experience?  JIM




Thursday, December 4

Misty Copeland for Under Armour

Continuing my post from yesterday about AdWeek's top 10 advertising spots of the year ... I also just had to comment on this spot from Under Armour featuring Misty Copeland.  We talked about it a great deal in my NYU class this week, to such rave reviews.


It is sheer brilliance, on so many levels and for so many brands.

Under Armour.  I've personally never thought about the brand in this context.  Under Armour is showing us another side, a much more graceful and fluid aspect of performance ... in contrast to what might otherwise be perceived as a "rough and tumble" kind of brand.  The stuff that Tough Mudder is made of.  This is still about a tough performance, and it's still about excellence ... but in a different form.  It ultimately casts new light on what the Under Armour brand is all about, likely opening a new market/target for the brand.

Misty Copeland.  I don't personally know much about her brand, but now I do.  So inspiring!  How her own story of achievement over obstacles makes her brand soar.  Hopefully, she's helping others to overcome their own struggles as well.

Personal Branding.  The call to action is amazing ... "I Will What I Want."  It's a personal branding rally cry that we all can relate to.  I feel like I've had to will my way through things in life too, and this kind of messaging helps to motivate me to keep on moving on.  Will power can do amazing things.

This is what good marketing should do:  inspire and motivate, whether you buy that particular brand or not.  I have a feeling though, it helped in that department too.

What's your experience?  JIM

Wednesday, December 3

John Lewis

We are nearing the end of the year, so you know what that means, right?!?  Year-end lists!

AdWeek recently came out with their top ten spots for the year, and we reviewed some of them in my NYU class last night.  Click here for the full list.

This one from UK retailer John Lewis really hit me.  I'd never seen it before, nor did I realize that #MontyThePenguin had become such a sensation.  Once I saw the spot, I got it.

It captures the true meaning of gift-giving, perfect for the holiday season and evidently perfect for this brand.

Give a look here:



From what I understand, sales of #MontyThePenguin are through the roof!

What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, December 2

Tide and the #SAHD

Ever so slowly and ever so quietly, the brand Tide (with partner brand Downey) has been consciously changing the perceptions of dad, particularly stay-at-home dad, in their advertising and ultimately in our pop culture.  It's a case of fiction reflecting reality ... and influencing perceptions.

I written a lot about brands that show the bumbly, fumbly dad ... now here's one that is celebrating the #SAHD.  Bravo!  Hits near and dear to my heart.

I can personally relate as the dad who did the family laundry for years on end, and in fact I still do the laundry when my kids are home from college.  I actually enjoy doing the laundry ... there's something quite therapeutic about it.

Bravo to Tide and Downey ... Here's "Dad and the Princess Dress:"



Nothing over done, nothing too dramatic.  But from what I see in social media, pretty indicative of the role dads are playing whether they are #SAHD or just #DAD.

Well played.

What's your experience?  JIM.



Monday, December 1

The Other Side of the Desk

I had an enlightening experience the other day while interviewing a candidate for a job opening.  I decided to post my observations on Huffington Post.  The interview gave me great insight into my own brand.

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.  JIM

Monday, November 24

I Miss Black Friday




(this post also appears at Huffington Post, click here to read it there

I know I'm going to date myself here, but I remember a day when "Black Friday" meant something.

I was in high school, working at the local JCPenney ... first in the Catalog Department and then in Men's.  This was a time when we were taught at work; a time when we had mentors and we learned the trade.  It was an amazing experience because I was schooled in all things retail and customer service, and I learned how to navigate the choppy waters of dealing with "the public."  I also learned about the financials of retail, including sales, markdowns, and returns.

Back then, "Black Friday" was typically the calendar day that most retailers finally turned a profit for the year.  Since most retail sales, at least back then, happened during the holidays and at back to school, this was a pivotal turning point for retail financials.  Plus it was a huge volume/traffic day because everyone was home from school/college and families would start their Christmas shopping, together.  I know every year I went out with my parents which always included a fun lunch out, together.

"Black Friday" was organic back then.  Retailers didn't fabricate the day, shoppers turned it into a retail holiday and retailers embraced them.  It was driven by the shoppers, nothing else.

Then somewhere along the say, it turned into a fiasco. Competing sales, shifting store hours, fights at displays ... "Black Friday" got really messed up.  And now of course, it's no longer even Friday.  For the last few years it's trickled into Thanksgiving Thursday, and now this year the trend seems to be "Black Friday" all week long.  I swear I saw sales starting last week even!

It makes this professional shopper and retail lover want to stay home.  In fact I will stay home, or shop online, which is why Cyber Monday has become such a hit.  Sorry, correction ... Cyber Week because that too has become a
week long event that's not even waiting for Monday anymore.

It's all so .... exhausting.  Can't we just celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, and then go shopping on the next day for a nice day out together?  I miss that.  I miss the old "Black Friday."

What's your experience?  JIM

Sunday, November 23

What's the Price?


No matter what business you're in, it's assumed that you're the expert.  Particularly if you're a small business owner.

Are there minimum requirements?  I'd say so ... I explored the topic for Entrepreneur.

Give a click here if you'd like to read it.

What's your experience?  JIM

Thursday, November 20

A Meet-Up with NYC Dads Group

I had the immense pleasure of meeting up with the NYC Dads Group ... truly eye opening.

I expressed my feelings on Huffington Post.  Click here to give it a read.

All I'm going to say is that we've/I've come a long way!  What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, November 18

Together!

Now this is a brand experience!

This has to be, IMHO, one of the most inspiring pieces of sports film I have seen.

The sense of community, the feeling of commitment, the ownership of responsibility, and the not so subtle notion of giving back is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Proof that sports can build a community, and that one man can make a difference.

This puts sports marketing on an entirely different level for me.

Take a look at let me know ...


... what's your experience?  JIM

Monday, November 17

Data is Not an Insight

I have a little pet peeve when it comes to developing marketing programs.  It's been bugging me, so I decided to write about it for Entrepreneur.

Data is not an insight, nor is an insight a strategy.

Give a click here to give it a read.

Tell me, what's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, November 13

#HolidayBuds

Well the holiday season is upon us.  In case you wouldn't have known otherwise, the quick ramp up of holiday marketing certainly has certainly kicked in.

All the major retailers are picking up the pace, in anticipation of Black Friday.  Or in Walmart's case, the gradual spreading out of Black Friday.  They announced this week that their big deals won't be exclusive to that one day, but rather spread out over the week.  Good call.

So far my favorite campaign, and it is still early in the season, is the new #HolidayBuds effort from Budweiser.

They've launched a vintage wooden crates timed to the holiday season.  There are only 10,000 of them, so if you are lucky enough to be able to pick one up, the brand is encouraging you to snap a shot and post it on social media.  But of course.

The limited edition crates are just one decoration on this holiday campaign, as the brand is looking to reunite old friends to spend the holiday together.

#HolidayBuds

Get it?  This kind of sentimentality is traditional for this brand, we've come to love and expect it.

A new video/advertising intros the concept with real folks looking to get reacquainted with their friends, encouraging others to do the same.  The brand will fund a number of "reunions" as part of the gig ... sure to generate lots of content that will bring holiday smiles to our faces.



This is the stuff of great holiday marketing.

What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, November 11

A Tribute to Sophie, My Fur Kid


I wrote a tribute to our beloved French Bulldog, Sophie, who passed away on 10/28/14.  I felt like she deserved a fitting goodbye from me.

Click here to give it a read.

Forever Sophie.  December 2002 - October 2014

Victoria's Secret, Perfect


I literally just wrote an article for Huffington Post about the incredible shopping experience at Victoria's Secret.   You can read about it here, if you'd like ... and then bam, the brand is in the news.

Despite my sincere respect for the company's in-store environment and services, I have struggled for years with their branding and marketing.  Not so much as a marketer, but as a consumer.  Or should I say the father of a consumer.

But my daughter and I have been able to put that aside given how much the sales associates help their clientele, including both of us, in store.  We don't relate to the imagery, just to the customer service and the strength of the product lines.

Which is why I wasn't surprised to hear about the latest upset over the brand's new campaign touting "the perfect body."  The brand is nothing if it's not consistent.

But this time around the brand responded to its critics, its very vocal critics, and changed the messaging.
Now the campaign reads "a body for every body."

Well played, and probably where the brand should be sitting anyway.  Interesting, the brand didn't outwardly say that they made the change, they just quietly made it online.  To me, they should take some credit for listening to their consumers.

Now some are upset that not everything has changed yet, including the in-store displays that still say "the perfect body."  But I say, "all in due time."  Let's hope anyway.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, November 10

Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Terms

We tend to toss around business terms like they don't mean much ... just a buzzword here and there.

But the truth is that some of them are very important for defining your business and marketing to your customers.

So I wrote this quick little guide for Entrepreneur Magazine.

Give it a click here if you'd like to read it.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, November 6

#technologyandstuff


This is already old news, given that it's been a week since the story first broke.  That's dog years in social media.

But the point isn't lost on me at all, and in fact there's a lesson to be learned in here that is timeless.

Back people up!

Click here to read an article if wrote for Huffington Post about #technologyandstuff.  Let me know what you think.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Wednesday, November 5

A Senior Parents' Weekend

I went to my fourth and final Parents' Weekend this Fall to visit my daughter at Penn State.  She's now a senior and already planning for what's next.

I expected the usual orientations, sporting events, and College Ave shopping ... but I got a lot more.

So I wrote about it on Huffington Post.  Give it a click here to read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, November 3

A Study on Authentic Brands


My agency, Cohn & Wolfe, just launched its third annual study on Authentic Brands.

Entrepreneur Magazine was kind enough to let me write an article about it.  I highlighted a couple points that I found most interesting to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, October 31

A Gay CEO?


(This article also appears on Huffington Post.  Click here if you'd like to read it there.)


The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, "came out" yesterday, just a couple weeks after National Coming Out Day.

Best quote from his announcement:  "Let me be clear:  I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."  He also went on to say that while he has been open with many of his colleagues, he's never "announced" it before.  I understand that fully.

But first ... when have you ever heard being gay described as a gift?  I love it!

Sure, we've grown accustomed to celebrities coming out, some with great fanfare.  But business people?  It's a rarity.  Big business people?  Hardly ever at all.  In fact just a short time ago, BP CEO John Browne resigned for fear of being "outed."  That was 2007.  My how times have changed!

I was personally told, back in the day, that I shouldn't tell people that I'm gay.  I was told that I'd lose clients and people would be afraid to work for me.  This coming from "friends."  Maybe it was true, I'll never know.  It may have taken me awhile, but I eventually told people.

I eventually put a picture of my partner in my office.   With my kids.

I eventually took my partner to a work function.  Even to a client dinner.

No fanfare, no announcement, no declaration.  I didn't wave flags to scream it down the halls. Just a slow process, really just telling people one on one for the most part.

For many years I had my own agency, CPPartners.  We created the first print advertising for Tylenol specifically targeting the LGBT community timed perfectly for gay pride that year.  An industry publication wrote that I was the "openly gay" President of the agency.  It was meant well, but just sounded so odd at the time.  Sounds even odder now.

Coming up through the ranks, I'm sure I paid for being open.  I would walk into meetings and comments were made publicly about "the gay guy walking in the room."  I smiled through it, but it worried me about being labeled as someone who wouldn't go far as a result.  I felt like it was being said to somehow push me down.

Looking back from where I sit now, I don't care.  I did what I had to do to balance my career with raising my kids.  I'm happy with every decision I made.  My kids are succeeding in college, thank you very much, and I'm thrilled with my work.

Was I proud ... yes, but also scared.  I didn't know what the impact would be to my professional or personal life.  I still don't really know.  But thanks to high profile business people like Tim Cook, I think we can all breathe just a little easier now.  Let's hope he sparks a trend of people being more open about who they are, no matter who they are, at work.

Have I ever considered being gay a gift?  No, but I do now.

I say Bravo to Tim Cook.  While some may say, "What took you so long?"  I say anytime you're ready to talk about who you are is the right time.  Bravo!

As Tim said, if he could help one teenager then it was worth the effort.  That's why I'm also writing this blog post.

Thank you, Tim!

What's your experience?  JIM.


Monday, October 27

Enter, The Hand Sanitizer


I've made two trips to Dallas in the last couple of weeks, and I live in Manhattan.  The Ebola scare has certainly been top-of-the-media in both markets, and you can't possibly escape the nonstop coverage.

In our media-driven world, that's a given.

But there's another side effect of the situation that's equally as noticeable and once again changing our behaviors ... hand sanitizer.

It seems like the hand sanitizer comes in and out of favor, as our awareness and paranoia for infectious conditions rises and falls.

Literally, everywhere I went in the Dallas area there were bottles and pumps of hand sanitizer.  And now that New York City is on alert, they are popping up all over the city here as well.

I hadn't seen them since the last time we were worried about such things ... If I remember correctly it was the swine flu.

It's almost as if the hand sanitizer is a barometer for our depth of concern over catching something dangerous.  Like a thermometer of sorts.  We are worried now about Ebola, so enter the hand sanitizer.

As a result, I'd wish they'd go away!  I'm sure we all do!

Of course, the interesting part is that the branding doesn't seem to be an important part of the mix.  Sure, there are brands in the equation, but they don't seem to be driving the solution ... just reacting to public sentiment.

Is there a perceivable difference in the products?  Is there a role for branding here, especially when emotions run so high?  

What's your experience?  JIM.

Sunday, October 26

Take It Personally

My series at Entrepreneur about brand positioning is coming to a close.

My final perspective ... take it personally.

Give it a read here if you'd like.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, October 24

Not That Kind Of Girl

Before I start, I must say that I am by no means a super fan of Lena Dunham.  I don't think I'd even say I'm a fan.  I don't think she's honestly even on my radar.  If anything, I'd probably say she's over-exposed and I don't really pay attention.  Her over exposure isn't to the level of Kim Kardashian, but it's all relative.

So along comes Lena with a new book, Not That Kind Of Girl.  I never noticed TBH.

Along comes her web series to go with the book, I never noticed.

I was at a conference yesterday for The PR Council where this INCREDIBLE woman, an American woman who is Muslim was talking about prejudice.  She said to watch Lena Dunham's new web series, or at least the first episode.  She said it was "must see."

I'd do just about anything this woman told me to do.  She was that insightful, brilliant, informed, and logical.

As soon as I got home, I clicked in:


Ok, this is the first definition of feminism I have seen that absolutely 100% matches mine.  Actually, it doesn't match my definition of feminism, it matches my definition of how we should go through life, and how we should look at others.  It is exactly what I say to my daughter, and to my son.

Sold.  What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, October 23

FCKH8

FCKH8 ... as in "F@&K HATE" (sorry for the language) just released a shocking video to draw attention to women's rights.

There's shock value to be sure, and in fact when you watch the video linked below you need to do it knowing that you've put your headphones on and you won't be offended.  And you may not want the kids to see it quite yet.

The message is clear ... the point isn't that these little girls are cursing, the point is that they are growing up in a world that is still filled with inequality.

In this case, the inequality is against women, but it's universal in my book and from FCKH8's POV.  In this case the video is raising money for women's charities, but the organization tackles anyone and everyone who faces hatred.  I have to applaud that.

F@&K HATE is exactly right.  Hate has done a lot more damage than the word F@&K.

Click here to give it a view.

I've heard it said that the message gets lost in the shock value.   Maybe, if you turn it off the instant it starts.  But I don't think that's the case.  I've also heard it said that the stats are exaggerated to make the point.  Could be, not sure.  I have even heard it said that it's exploiting kids.  I don't personally like the treatment TBH but ...  I do get the point.  Putting these girls up to the task is a bit harsh IMO, but I still like the message.

I don't know much about the organization either, but they seem to stay consistent with their messaging across multiple topics.

I viewed the video far a bigger picture POV ... a curse word means nothing in the scheme of things.  It's the inequality and the treatment of women (and anyone facing hatred) that is far more damaging.  Hate is far more damaging.

I get it.  I respect it.  I love the message.   The organization must have felt the need to scream in order to be heard.  I get that too.  Even though there's a cringe factor to it for sure.

What's your take?  What's your experience?  JIM.

Wednesday, October 22

Shopping Victoria's Secret

My daughter posed a question, a challenge to me if you will.  I grabbed it, for Huffington Post.

Give a click here if you'd like to read about it.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Tuesday, October 21

A New Champion at Breakfast

There's a new face on the Wheaties box, and it's not an Olympic hero or a professional athlete.

But she is a hero and a consummate professional.

Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State.

Say what?!?

In a very smart move, the brand is redefining what it means to be a "champion."  It's not just about sports, but about challenging your personal best.

Ms. Albright certainly fits the bill.

So the "kids these days" are going to be staring at her face at the breakfast table, at least for a short time.

Talk about inspiring the next generation!

Well played!  What's your experience?  JIM.

Saturday, October 18

Focus

Continuing my continuing series at Entrepreneur on positioning, this post talks about the biggest benefit:  focus.

Focus is critical to good marketing, and good business in general.

A focused positioning can help you get there.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, October 16

Starbucks Art

I talk about Starbucks a lot, not just because it's a personal brand fav of mine but because it's a classic example of a brand that has been able to infiltrate people's lives way beyond you'd ever imagine a product being able to do.  In this case coffee.

It's a powerhouse, benchmark brand.

First of all, when a brand can extend beyond it's functional benefit (caffeine to wake you up) to a much higher emotional benefit (being part of the community fabric), then you're onto something.

Second of all, when you can drop the product name from your logo and identity (i.e. coffee) and still be known better than ever, then you're onto the next level.  You've gone way beyond the product.

And then thirdly, when pop culture starts to play with who you are, extending who you are, celebrating who you are, then you've reached a level that very few brands ever attain.

Take a look at this artwork from an artist in Asia ... and what he's able to do with the Starbucks logo.



Amazing!  What's your experience?   JIM.

Wednesday, October 15

Biometrics T-Shirts

This week my agency is having its 5th Annual Digital Summit ... a global gathering of our Digital Innovation Group where we share knowledge, explore opportunities, and advance our collective capabilities.

It's one of the best things we do all year!

In his opening remarks, our Global Digital President presented a whole range of "new" technologies and emerging behaviors that we should note as digital marketing professionals.

One of the most interesting, to my eye anyway, was wearable biometric clothing.  It's not brand new technology, certainly, but it's fascinating to see new applications that are merging into our lifestyles.

Hexoskin makes a fitness shirt that tracks your breathing, respiration, and heart rate while you are exercising so that you can track your performance.  Or if you have a health issue, you can track your safety.  Wear it at night, it'll track your resting heart rate and sleeping positions.  You can read it all from your smart phone ... and listen to music while you are exercising.

Track your beats to the beat.



Cool.  I'm running to get one this weekend.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Raising the Emotional Benefit

I talk all the time about how brands need to deliver on an emotional benefit for their customers.  It's our job as marketers to go beyond the product features and show people how they should feel when they engage with our brand.

Here's an example from Sweden that I think highlights what it means to talk about your products, versus marketing a brand.

First up, a product story:



And how a brand took it to a different level:


See what I mean?  What's your experience?  JIM.

Tuesday, October 14

Pink!

It's October ... so you know what that means ... pink!

Pink, pink, pink.

It's amazing when a brand can completely take over a color, and own it.  Breast cancer certainly owns the color pink.  And I don't think there's ever been another brand or cause or activity that has owned a color more.

As someone who has certainly had cancer impact my family's life, I applaud the activity.

I'm certainly not going to get into the politics of it all here, but I do think it's fair to acknowledge the debate about over exposure and the excessive use of pink.  Some people think it's gotten to be too much.

Fracking?




Fuel oil?



Football?


And  ... J. C. Penney?

A little proof that as marketers we have to be careful about how we use "pink."  While the brand can't seem to get a break, they've gotten more than their share of commentary on this year's "pink" advertising.  I'd chock it up to a bad execution because I'm sure the intentions were good.





















What's your take on "pink?"  What's your experience?  JIM.

Monday, October 13

May Your Positioning Be Your Guide

Here's the next installment of my continuing series at Entrepreneur about brand positioning.

This article talks about how to use your newly minted brand positioning to guide business decisions.

Give it a click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, October 9

Rock the Vote 2014

Rock the Vote has been around for a long time now, so it's not exactly new news.

In fact, you could argue that it's become a fabric of the election season ... the only thing REALLY new (to my naked eye) are the celebrities featured to promote it.

But you can't argue with the cause ... our right to vote shouldn't be taken for granted nor should it be ignored.  We need to vote every year, even in a non-Presidential year.  So I'm happy to see it come back year after year.

There is a spin to it this time around that I hadn't noticed before.

#TurnOurForWhat

Each of the celebs are stating why they are voting ... what they are voting for.

Reproductive rights, marriage equality, human rights, education, prison reform ... you name it.  It's your vote.




I did like the little cameo from Whoppi Goldberg too; always love a little Whoppi.  And Lena puts it out there too, which is her certainly her brand.

What will you turn out for?  What's your experience?  JIM.

Wednesday, October 8

Thug Kitchen Cookbook

It's very hard to differentiate a brand in almost any category.  But some are harder than others.

Cookbooks is one of the particularly hard ones.

Our kitchen bookshelves are loaded with cookbooks, most of them signed.  We have two large bookcases filled with all sorts of topics from desserts to meats to raw foods to grilled vegetables to organic to French ... and everything else in between.

While we clearly collect them, we'd be pretty hard pressed to separate them out.  They're kinda all the same.  Sorry.

There are some standouts for sure, from some pretty amazing chefs with beautiful photography that's just fun to flip through, with a try of a recipe here and there.

Which is why I was so surprised to see this new cookbook come across my social media feed multiple times the other day.  Which is why I just had to take a look.  Which is why I cringed and laughed at the same time.

Which is why this just might be the most differentiated cookbook I have seen.  With a message that's important.

Thug Kitchen Cookbook.

The approach isn't for everyone, but they're clearly using a different technique (in this category anyway) to explain their usefulness to people.

I'll let the video speak for itself, and then duck as you'll comment.  If you're at work or around any sensitive to language, keep the volume low or put on your headphones.


What's your experience?  JIM

Monday, October 6

Lock the Back Door

The kids are back to college, fourth year for my daughter and second year for my son.

After an amazing summer, it's empty nest time again.

When you're living in an empty nest, some things are harder to get used to than others, especially the second time around.

Here's an article I wrote for Huffington Post, that describes one of the hardest new things I've had to face with my kids out of the house.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, October 3

Frictionless Commerce



I'm a sucker for a good concept, especially one that gets me thinking.

Which is why I enjoyed interviewing Lisa Pearson, the CMO at Bazaarvoice, this week during Advertising Week here in New York.

She talked about the "frictionless" economy.  Given that their technology platform fuels customer comments, reviews, ratings, and content for e-commerce, then clearly she's an expert on the topic.

"Frictionless?"  I had to probe her on that one!

Basically, friction happens when the shopping experience is less than perfect.

Long lines, out of stock merchandise, inconsistencies between brick and click ... these all cause friction.

The other day I was at a home store and there wasn't a price on an item I was interested in buying as a gift for a friend getting married.  The sales associate couldn't locate the price, nor could she find the item on their website in order to look up the price.  I walked out empty handed, frustrated that I had to find the time to go to another store to get a gift.  Friction.

Now that commerce has gotten so complex across multiple off and online channels, there are a lot more moments for potential friction.  The interchange between physical retail stores and their e-commerce counterparts can be quite bumpy for a lot of brands.  While mobile can be a bridge, it's still less than perfect.

But it's happening.  Last year's sales on Black Friday left many brick and mortar retailers disappointed.  The data showed a new mobile phenomenon.  While people were running into the stores for door buster deals, they were researching on their mobile phones for better deals while they were physically shopping.

Here you have customers standing in your store, buying an item elsewhere on their mobile.  While they are standing in your store.  Friction.

Friction can cost you sales, and it can also dampen the relationship that your customers have with your brand.

Which is why marketers have to think about the total brand and shopping experience.

Marketers have to think about the complete and sometimes complex path to purchase and how to influence and create consistency every step along the way.  And how to reduce friction.

I honestly had never thought about it that way.  Friction.  It's a marketer's job to reduce friction.

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

What's your experience?  Is there any friction?  JIM.

Thursday, October 2

Connect Emotionally

I'm continuing my series at Entrepreneur, all about brand positioning.  This post is perhaps the most important, because it's all about the emotional benefit.

Give it a click here if you'd like to read it.

Wednesday, October 1

Biggest Marketing Moments of 2014

My students in my NYU class have homework every week, no surprise.

This week's assignment was to outline what they consider to be the biggest marketing moment so far this year.

I have to admit I was surprised at some of the submissions.

Sure, I anticipated seeing Ellen's selfie from the Oscars.  Check.

I figured someone who say the iPhone 6 Launch.  Check.

Share a Coke was sure to make the list.  Check.

No surprises there.

ISIS use of social media?  Do explain, please ... it changed many of the social media outlets' policies regarding monitoring of posts and censoring.  That's big.

Apple hiring former CEO of Burberry.  It signaled a focus on accessories and pop culture.

FIFA and the US Soccer Team.  Some say it changed the face of soccer in the US forever, giving it a face and an audience.

So much fun!  I say it all the time:  I learn more from the students then they learn from me.

What would be your pick for the biggest marketing moment so far this year?  What's your experience?  JIM

Monday, September 29

Outlining Your "Because"

I'm continuing my Entrepreneur series on positioning, with a look at how product attributes can make a brand unique.

Click here if you'd like to give it a read.

What makes you unique ... what's your experience?  JIM.

KLM Lost & Found

The airline industry is a interesting business to watch from a marketing perspective ... all the brands fight it out to differentiate themselves, but few succeed quite honestly.  There are the fare wars, the safety video wars, the luggage wars ... they each try to one-up the other in an effort to engage consumers.

Now along comes KLM with a masterful attempt.  I'm not sure how far it'll go or how great of an impact it will have on their sales, but it's very insightful.

Losing stuff while traveling is a huge inconvenience and a major source of stress from the moment you realize you've left something behind.

I just lost my smart phone the other day (although luckily it was quickly retrieved), and I went into panic mode.  Thankfully I had it password protected.  

So to have man's best friend do a search and return is just a wonderful feel-good, making us feel good about the airline.  Give this video a watch:


Totally makes me feel differently about KLM, an airline that I honestly didn't have on my radar but now I have great admiration for the brand.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Friday, September 26

Riding "The Ice Bucket Challenge"


PRWeek asked me to provide my point of view on the recent phenomenon "The Ice Bucket Challenge," in a point-counter-point style column they have called "Gloves Off."

You know I love talking and writing about marketing so of course I said "yes."  Actually I ended up saying "no."

Give a click here to see what I mean.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Wednesday, September 24

The New Tech Generation




There's a new generation of tech enthusiasts, and they are influencing brand choices.

Here's an article on Huffington Post where I wrote about it.

Give it a click here if you'd like to read it.

What's your experience?  JIM.

OutRVA in Richmond, VA


Full disclosure here:  I'm on the Board of Directors of the Brandcenter at VCU 
(Virginia Commonwealth University)

But even if I wasn't on the Board, I'd still be writing about a new campaign co-created by the students at the VCU Brandcenter in conjunction with Richmond Region Tourism to promote tourism in the city of Richmond, Virginia.

A certain kind of tourism:  LGBT visitors.

It's called OutRVA.

In essence, the city is "coming out," and declaring itself welcoming and gay-friendly, something you may not assume to be true coming from a southern state like Virginia where same sex marriage has not yet been accepted.

Timed with its annual Pridefest this week, OutRVA is a fully integrated campaign that will not only blanket local businesses, but other cities where LGBT travelers are looking for places to visit.

I personally admire how the campaign basically mirrors how a person may personally come out, except in this case it's a city that is proudly declaring, "I'm gay."  I admire "anyone" who has the courage to come out!



What I love most, and admittedly I am biased, is that the campaign was created by a community of creative students, aligning with their greater community, to breed new life into a city that is having a new renaissance.  It's a great place to visit, and it's time to come Out!

The fact that the students are becoming a part of the city's revival, with an "audience" that is also going through its own cultural renaissance is quite inspiring.

And of course the creative is great too!  Kudos to the students and faculty of the VCU Brandcenter!

What's your experience?  JIM


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/15/business/media/richmond-va-makes-a-bold-appeal-for-lgbt-tourists.html?_r=0

Tuesday, September 23

IKEA, High and Low

I’m a big fan of the IKEA brand, both personally and professionally.  I’ve talked about it in my writing, and it constantly comes up in my classes at NYU.  IKEA is a mega-brand that has mastered the brand experience, in my book anyway!  Browsing the store is an adventure in creativity and imagination, whether you run in for 15 minutes and shortcut the route or whether you savor every twist and turn in the retail maze.  It's an amazing case study in multiple touchpoint marketing.

Which is why I was so psyched to see this little video put together to promote the brand’s new catalog.  The messaging is clear:  what’s old is new again, as it takes a swipe at the latest technology innovations that capture our attention these days.


It’s the IKEA BookBook:





Now don’t be fooled by this brand, they put technology on their side as well.  There’s an interactive version of their catalog that allows you to virtually “place” furniture in your home, right along side your other belongings, including your family members.  It’s technology put to amazing use to help us all make decisions about our home, and I think it’s fabulous.




Thank you, IKEA, for always delivering on a fantastic brand experience … your brand experience … inside the store, outside the store, and in consumers' homes.


What’s your experience?  JIM.