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