Friday, May 29

Concentric Circles of Competition

I'm writing a new series of articles over at Entrepreneur that mirror my class at NYU....all about the difference between a product and a brand. It's been a fascinating exercise to turn a semester's worth of content in a fourteen week series of posts. I've always said that focus is a good thing, and I'm learning my own lesson here.

This week's post is about how to analyze your competition from a product and a brand perspective. Most marketers focus on the product side only, but hopefully I've been able to show that it's your brand competition that is perhaps an even greater threat.

Give a click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, May 28

18th Place

While I was unpacking boxes during a recent move, I discovered an old awards ribbon for my son...he got 18th place from a swim meet when he was ten years old.

It got me thinking, and blogging on Huffington Post. Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, May 26

Whirlpool and Role Fluidity

I'm a Marketer and a Dad. I've lived my life taking care of my children while balancing the demands of my career. Yes, it was a constant struggle every day, but I always put my best foot forward, no matter what the situation. Now that my children are young adults, I feel pure joy cheering their accomplishments as they navigate their own lives.

Pure joy.

As a very active parent in an untraditional family, I always grimaced at how fathers were portrayed in advertising campaigns. And as a marketer, there were times I was seriously embarrassed. Fathers were often viewed as aloof or fumbly and hyper-focused on career, leaving all the household and family duties to the mother. It was never that way in my home, so I found myself gravitating toward anything in pop culture that reflected our family. But there wasn't much...there were no role models to speak of.

There was no Modern Family.

So you can imagine my appreciation now in watching brands showcase and celebrate the real modern family today. As a marketer who has promoted brands for decades, I take great pride in our evolution and as a father I walk a little taller when I see the great inclusion happening across all media.

Honey Maid and Swiffer, just to name two standout brands, have shown the diversity of our families and have celebrated how we collectively take care of our homes and our children. Luckily, these two brands aren't just trending; we are seeing more and more brands embrace evolving gender roles around how we each individually family. Yes, that is a verb.

The latest is Whirlpool with "Every day, care."

I am thrilled, personally and professionally, to see how the brand is featuring the fluidity of family gender roles and showing how traditional expectations of family are evaporating. Yes, dads can family too, thank you very much. Yes, that is a verb.

What I love about the Whirlpool family is how the brand reinforces the fact that it's the little things that matter when it comes to caring. "Every day, care" as they say.

After years of shuffling kids to activities, doing loads and loads of laundry, and helping with school projects, I can verify that it's the little moments that make a parent. The little things add up, let me tell you, when you hit a really big stumbling block and you have to rely on your family's love and support to get through it.

The fact that this brand "gets it" makes me respect it even more, especially as a parent.

I can relate because I remember vividly making school lunches in the morning, and including little notes and stamping little pictures on the brown bag... at least until my daughter told me that the other boys were making fun of my son for it.

Sadly, that stopped me in my tracks. It was OK, though, I found other ways to show a little love, albeit less publicly. "This too shall pass," was a common theme back in the day.

Let's face it; parenting is messy. It's not always on script and many times we have no idea how to tackle what's in front of us. But we move forward as a family, any kind of family, and we surround our children in love. It's often the little points of caring in life that get us through, like a little love note on a brown bag lunch or a freshly laundered t-shirt that smells like home. Or a freshly brewed cup of coffee hand delivered in bed.

As a father, I'd like to thank Whirlpool and the other brands that are so faithfully giving us all new role models to inspire us all to be even better family even better. Yes, that is a verb.

As a fellow marketer, it makes me proud to make this industry my career.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, May 22

Whistle While You Work It

It's Memorial Day weekend, the official first weekend of the summer. After a rough Northeast winter, we could use a little sunshine, flowers, and time at the beach.

Memorial Day weekend always puts a little spring in my step. No matter how rough things have been, it's a great weekend of relaxation and anticipation for summer.

I came across this little ditty from the UK that sums up the feeling...and actually is a bit of my motto for life in general. I keep my head down, I plow ahead, and I get stuff done. Or in other words, Whistle While You Work It.

I know, I've been accused of having the musical taste of a sixteen year old girl, and I embrace it.

Enjoy the weekend, and enjoy the summer. Don't let the little (or big) things get you down.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, May 21

Double Duty SWOT

For my continuing series at Entrepreneur, I'm focusing on what makes a product different from a brand. This week's post is all about the classic SWOT analysis, except now it does double duty.

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

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, May 15

Targeting Times Two

Over at Entrepreneur, I'm writing a new series based on the class I teach at NYU ... it's all about the difference between a product and a brand. This week's installment is about targeting, times two.

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

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, May 14

The Image Generation Graduates

I just spent a glorious weekend at my daughter's college graduation from Penn State.

Huffington Post was gracious enough to let me capture my thoughts.

Click here to give it a read.

Congrats to all the grads this year!

What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, May 13

Bye Bye American ... Idol

I was a fan of American Idol from the first episode of the first season. I was there when Justin met Kelly, and I was there in the moment when Kelly Clarkson had "a moment like this."

To say that American Idol was a sensation is not giving it justice. It was a marketing machine...from branded integrations with Coke and Ford to the pumping out of pop stars with instant #1 songs. It fueled the music industry year and after and it satisfied our desire for the Cinderella story, the sing along, the competition, and for the viewing of pure, live, unadulterated talent. The finales were like watching the Super Bowl...but even better.

Talent. That's what American Idol was all about and many a brand rode the train. I even presented a case study after season two about how the show had transformed product integration and entertainment marketing. Because it did.

But now it's over, perhaps even a season or two too late. Even I lost interest a few years ago. After repeated ratings slides and tough competition ramping up the game, it's time to say goodbye to American Idol. That's ok, it happens. Time to move on. more season with one more round of talent and one more round of judging. And of course, you know the reunions will be popping up all over. I live for it. I'm in for another last season.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, May 12

MTA Bans Political Ads

While is started from a place of hate, I actually like where the decision landed.

The NYC MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) has decided to ban all political advertising from its network. This after a long debate, probably over years, of the balance between free speech and the ability to reject offensive messaging. The latest issue being a particular offensive message that in no way shape or form could possibly be viewed. The best course of action turns out to simply ban all political forms in its entirety.

While I am normally a proponent of caveat emptor, in this case I support it. Public transportation is a public place and quite honestly we (as riders) shouldn't be forced in a closed environment to view such political and socio-political banter. There are plenty of venues for that, where we have a choice to view. The subway isn't one of them.

I support it.

And in thinking through the upcoming election season and then all of next year, it'll be a welcome relief to get on the subway and not have to read all about the constant parade of issue bashing and candidate positioning...or is that issue positioning and candidate bashing? You get the point.

What do you think? Right move? What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, May 11

Bud Light - Acting Responsibly

As part of their "Up for Whatever" campaign, Bud Light incorporate a series of scrolling messages onto their bottles in an effort to engage with consumers and to inspire a lifestyle of spontaneity. With 140 different messages, something was bound to go wrong and indeed it did.

One message in particular, about saying "no," was perceived to be in bad taste and quickly drew social media criticism. Rightly so, from my perspective, particularly as a dad. The company just as quickly apologized, although admittedly it is hard to imagine how this particular messaging made it past any sort of quality control.

If you look at it innocently through the eyes of the campaign, I can see the mistake. If you look at in cynically, then it's a huge head scratcher how it could have ever make it to print.

But the point here is that Bud Light acted responsibly, just like the industry asks its drinkers to do. They didn't hesitate or justify or make up excuses, they just simply withdrew the inventory and apologized. On every channel possible, even with paid media. The brand took responsibility for its actions and acknowledged its mistake. Whether it should have happened to begin with is a separate argument, the brand did it right.

I salute that.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, May 1

Products vs. Brands

I started a new series over at Entrepreneur, something that appears to be a hot topic lately and something that class at NYU centers around...

...the difference between a product and a brand.

Give a click here to read the debut article in the series.

What's your experience? JIM.