Thursday, April 30

Jet Blue Birds

I'm a frequent flyer, so I immediately sparked to this video. This is perhaps the best representation of the typical airline experience...as depicted by an airline.

Give it a look and let me know what you think.


From Jet Blue! What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, April 29

Wine In A Can?


I'm not sure I'd ever see the day, but last night in my class at NYU I witnessed something quite shocking...wine in a can.

During our weekly "week in marketing" review, one of my students brought in a video from the Union Wine Company in Oregon for their Pinot in a Can. Now I consider myself to be quite open-minded, thank you, but even I grimaced at first.

Wine in a can?

But she went on to explain....

Many millennials don't have big homes or apartments, and hence don't have glassware. OK.

Many folks, not just millennials, are living a more fluid lifestyle where they consume alcohol (and other food and beverage) on the go. OK.

Advances in wine making now make it possible to have a good quality wine product in a can, rather than the traditional cork and bottle. OK

And the people from Oregon are very proud of their state and the products that come from it. Got it.

I have to say, once I shook my stereotypical view of wine drinking, I was intrigued.

The video series pulled me in. It's a low production (very), somewhat cheeky (extremely) series of shorts that challenge the conventions of wine and really do make you go hmmmm.


It's not Hollywood, and it's not France, but it's filled with Oregon pride...as is their website. Gotta love it.


I'm going to give it a try. What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, April 28

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


I know, I know, I know...the movie came out in 2011. But it's honestly taken me this long to get up the nerve to watch Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

I needed more distance from 9/11 before I could watch a movie about it, especially a movie about a father and his son. It took me awhile to get up the nerve but I am so glad that I did.

Thankfully, the disaster of 9/11 was simply a backdrop to the story of a bond between a father and a son, and ultimately a bond about family and understanding and support. It was extremely and incredibly moving.

As a father it moved me to examine the bond I have with my family and it made me think about how to prepare them for life on their own. No small topics.

As a New Yorker, it made me proud. It did bring back memories of how the city united during that horrible period, and how any of us would have done anything to help anyone affected. We still would.

I know many folks don't like watching movies unless they're new, and after a few years they feel kinda stale. Not this one. If the time has come for you to watch a movie centered around 9/11, then I encourage you to watch Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

It'll move you, it'll inspire you, it'll make you think about how you can be a better person.

Have you seen it yet? What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 27

Bruce Jenner, A Hero Once Again





We are witnessing a breakthrough in our culture. Milestones like this don't happen very often with this much clarity. So we must take a moment to acknowledge the bravery from within, and the inspiration that results from it.

The world is changing. #BruceJenner.

Bruce Jenner is finally telling his story about transitioning to becoming a woman. I say "finally" because he has been dealing with this his entire life, just like anyone in the LGBT community deals with their own issues.

But this is Bruce Jenner! He was the sexiest man alive long before there was a "Sexiest Man Alive." He was the world's greatest athlete and an American hero. I grew up in the seventies, and let me tell you he was a "wow."

He's been married three times, has many children, and has been part of a reality show dynasty whose lives have been documented every step of the way.

Except for the "real story" as he puts it.

Even though this is Bruce Jenner, I can relate on many levels. I've had my own issues to deal with through the years while prioritizing fatherhood above all else.

When he sat down with Diane Sawyer, we were all holding our collective breath. How would he handle this? Would it just be more "reality television" or would we really get the chance to see what is really going on? Would this just be another part of the news cycle or would it spark enduring change?

I knew the answer to those questions in the first thirty seconds and I sat in awe for two hours. Yes it was real, and yes we did see what's really been going on. But it was so much more than that.

It was so much more powerful that any of that.

Bruce's bravery is inspiring. He was so honest and so pure; in those two short hours he has now given so many others the chance to be brave too. He helped me, I will tell you that, but more importantly I know he helped others who are struggling with being Transgender. Thank you Bruce.

The information is eye opening. I actually learned something. There's very little understanding of Transgender people, sadly. The communication was clear and simple and purposeful in its intent to bring understanding. So while Bruce was sharing his journey in real time, he also started a breakthrough of understanding in real time. It's about time.

There is now a blanket of social media love. For perhaps the first time, we are seeing an outpouring of compassion for a misunderstood issue coming through on social media. I was participating in it during the broadcast, and it's still going strong. Tweets and posts of love, not condemnation, really can change people's lives and bring more understanding. This is what social media is for!

Bruce's family is just as brave. Clearly his children have had their own path to acceptance for their dad. What got me most was when his son said he was going to get "an upgraded version" of his father and that despite all of his dad's accomplishments that this was perhaps the biggest.

Wow.

We've all had our own journey through life, and I myself have struggled with societal pressures to be a certain way. While my story doesn't compare, I say all the time that we can learn from each other and we should support each other. That's why I wrote my own book, Out and About Dad, coming out for Father's Day. I can tell you with complete honestly that the whole thing is a terrifying experience. I can now understand how it's been for Bruce Jenner as a father too.

It's not easy to come out and share your story, but we all have to do it if we are going to change the world. It certainly wasn't easy for Bruce, as we all now know, but he did it...for himself and for all of us.

We are all so fortunate to have a hero (and his family) help us all do the same.

Wednesday, April 22

Pizza Wars Go To Bacon

Super deep dish crust, bacon, pepperoni...all on the same pizza.

Little Ceasar's Bacon Wrapped Crust Deep! Deep! Dish. Three and a half feet of bacon!

Indeed.


It makes the Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust pizza, from twenty years ago, look like an appetizer.


I know the pizza wars have been waging for years now, but it certainly seems to be ramping up.

What's next? Red velvet cake pizza? Birthday cake pizza? I'm personally waiting for the kale pizza.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 20

Prejudice Does Not Discriminate

All the banter I hear flying around in our culture has been weighing heavily on my mind.

So I wrote this piece for Huffington Post. It oddly made me feel better just writing it. I know that probably makes no sense.

Prejudice Does Not Discriminate.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, April 17

Maybe "Dad" Isn't So New

In the last ten years or so, we've certainly seen a meshing of gender roles at home, and we've certainly seen "dad" become much more visibly active in running the home and taking care of the kids.

Thankfully, we've also seen marketing catch up in how it portrays dad. We've gone from the bumbly fumbly dad who just can't seem to get it right, to the dad who stands hand in hand with his partner making the household hum...kissing the kids goodnight after them cooking dinner, doing the dishes, and giving them baths.

I for one am thrilled because like many of my friends I am one of those dads and I'm one of those marketers.

So I was fascinated to read this blog post about the evolution of dad through the centuries. Evidently, "new" dad isn't so new! There have been many times in our history where it was dad taking care of the home and the kids, just like today. Mom's role has also evolved through the ages as well. Fascinating.

Give a click here to read it.

So maybe this renaissance dad in #HowToDad really is Renaissance?


What's your experience? JIM.

PS - I've got my own book coming out about the evolution of fatherhood...available 6/2.


Thursday, April 16

Birthday Cake

What's going on with birthday cake? It seems to be popping up everywhere...it's the newest flavor to be hitting all things food.



Cookies, candies, novelties, beverages, vodka...Oreo, M&M's, Peeps, Muscle Milk, Smirnoff...about the only thing these things have in common is that they've all introduced a birthday cake flavor into their lineup.

Pop Tarts, Goldfish, Good Humor, Lay's...the list goes on and on. Every brand and food category seems to be jumping on the birthday cake bandwagon.

What's our obsession with birthday cake?

Part of it is certainly the taste, because if you like the taste then you love the taste. I happen to love the taste!

But I think most of it is nostalgia. I don't know very many people that don't love their birthdays, especially when you're young. And when you're older and perhaps don't want to count them anymore, you still remember how fun birthdays used to be. The common denominator for all of us is the traditional birthday cake with candles (and probably a birthday hat of some sort). It's a sight and taste that you never forget.

Which is why it tastes so amazing when it's in cookies, candies, novelties, beverages, and vodka...to name a few.

What's your experience? JIM.

PS - Since today is #TBT, I thought I'd throw in an old birthday shot of my own.




Wednesday, April 15

Your Marketing Plan Needs Focus


Alas, my series on marketing planning at Entrepreneur has come to an end.

I decided that the best way to end the series would be also how you should start it...with focus.

Give it a read here if you'd like.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, April 14

Lip Sync Battle

Lip Sync Battle. It's the surprise hit of the Spring, and seemingly came out of no where.

The concept started as a skit on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, instantly sparking a social media movement that drove it to become a regular full-length show on Spike TV.

The show is as simple as it gets, and that's what amazing about it. Celebrities compete against each other doing something that we all do...lip sync to our favorite songs. Round one is just with a microphone, and then round two allows for costumes and props. Oh yes there are costumes and props!



Anne Hathaway hit it out of the park last week, propelling the shows awareness with her version of "Wrecking Ball."


The interesting part about the show isn't actually watching it...it's the video viewing that occurs after broadcast and all of the social commentary that spins afterwards. This isn't appointment television, it's social television as people jump to YouTube to watch the video that all of their friends are talking about from the night before.

It sucked me in. Once I hear the chatter, I search and watch. And sing along.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 13

Hillary's Logo

Well yesterday we finally got the answer to the biggest non-question in our recent political history: Will Hillary Clinton make another run for President?

A solid yes.

And while I don't want to get into politics here, I do want to comment on her new logo. Not only did Hillary's announcement light up social media, her new logo drew quite a bit of attention as well. It's quite a strong contrast from her last go around...it's much more confident.


Much more assumptive...She not only can go by one name, like Cher or Madonna, but she can evidently just go by one letter! She knows we know her.

A forward feel to it...I love how the horizontal line in her "H" is actually a forward-moving arrow. Clever, actually.

Social media savvy...This one little icon fits perfectly in an avatar and it's easily recognizable from the smallest of mobile devices. Instant recognition no matter where you are or where she is. Luckily she is as social media conscious as her logo is.

I bet you can see it from outer space.

I'm a brand guy, so of course I will spark to branding elements and I have to say, politics aside, that this is a good one!

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, April 10

Air France - France is in the Air

I do a lot of flying, as do many of my colleagues. So I think it's fair for me to say, especially as a marketer, that it's very hard to differentiate between airlines. Sure many have attempted to showcase their unique attributes, with some success...like Virgin or Southwest or JetBlue for example. But let's face it, it's still flying. And it's still kind of like the same thing. Many of the airlines are still shouting out about legroom, free checked baggage, and frequent flyer miles. Where's the difference?

Enter Air France. Now admittedly, this is just a video commercial. But it speaks directly to an emotional experience of flying on this particular airline and all of the equity it brings along on your flight. No small feat. I think it's quite clever...


#FranceIsInTheAir

Seem familiar..."The Swing" from Fragonard.



What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, April 9

UPS: Wishes Delivered

I talk and teach all the time about how it's a marketer's job to find an emotional connection with consumers. For those of us who have been doing it for awhile, it sounds kind of obvious. But it's not always easy, in fact it's rarely easy.

Sometimes it's even hard to imagine finding an emotional connection at all. Like for delivery services like the USPS, FedEx, or UPS...where's the emotional connection in shipping?

UPS found one...by delivering wishes.

The brand started a new charity campaign where it not only donates money for every wish a consumer posts on its site, but it actually delivers on some of those wishes.

Like this one for a little boy in Colorado...


The look on this boy's face is priceless (to coin another brand). He certainly got his wish delivered, along with a relationship that will fuel him for a lifetime.

Now THAT's an emotional connection, separating out UPS from its competitors and building a brand.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, April 8

Amazon Dash

Just in time for April Fools' Day, Amazon released a new product that turned out to be no joke and just might be the first step toward e-commerce of the future.

Amazon Dash.


Amazon Dash is a small, branded button you place right where you use your favorite household products, like Tide or Bounty or Maxwell House or Gillette or Cottonelle. Let's face it, these are things you hate to run out of. When you're getting low on the product, right in that moment, you simply push the button to reorder. There's also a wand you can use to walk around your entire house as you voice-select products that need replenishment.

Free for Amazon Prime members. Of course...loyalty and membership has its rewards!

First of all, the convenience is staggering. No shopping lists, no checkout carts, no loading the car...just simply reordering. No over-thinking the process.

And the brand partnership opportunities are new and fresh, in categories that are very mature and established.

But what about pricing? What about discounts? Are coupons a thing of the past? Apparently. Amazon Dash completely strips out the brand's opportunity to push promotional windows and drive promotional volume, something that most consumer package goods rely on. Or has it? Hmm.

Again, the brand partnership opportunities are new and fresh.

I think it's amazingly cool. Is it the end-all-be-all...no. I have a feeling it's just a stop along the way toward better and better, faster and faster, product delivery systems for shoppers. It is certainly proof that Amazon is aiming to be the world's largest, most pervasive retailer. According to the NRF (National Retail Federation), it cracked the top ten for the first time last year. And counting.

Innovation is usually just a step along the way, if you think about it. And this is a bold step.

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, April 7

Swiffer and the Modern Family

Swiffer can do no wrong in my book these days.

The campaign they launched last year featuring modern families of all flavors, to me, showed an inspiring range of culture...single parents, mixed ethnicities, physically challenged, same sex...every flavor but all family.



So it's no surprise that their next marketing move would be equally as reflective as our culture.

The brand just signed Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family fame to be its newest spokesperson...actually he's going to represent both Swiffer and Febreze.

Like his character Mitch on Modern Family, Jesse is a self-described neat freak and suffers from allergies...something both Swiffer and Febreze can address. In fact both brands have recently been certified as allergy and asthma friendly, something very important to a lot of families, including my own.

Jesse is also a man. I personally admire how the brand has showcased the fact that men also take care of their homes and do the cleaning, just like women. Including my own!

Thank you Swiffer for the continued inspiration...we all appreciate it.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 6

Share Your Marketing Plan


I'm winding down my series on marketing planning at Entrepreneur.

When you finally finish your plan, you need to share it with your partners.

Sounds obvious...but do you? And how do you share it?

Click here to get some tips on the "business brief.

What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, April 2

Groupon's Banana Bunker


I love when people send me blog post suggestions...makes me smile every single time. And for the most part, I use them. Why wouldn't I?

Well this one I've avoided all week, mostly because, well, it's cheesy. But I've gotten so many requests to comment that I guess I can't let it pass.

The Banana Bunker from Groupon.

It puts the Play-Doh extruder to shame. My oh my.

Let's face it, sex sells. So when Groupon (who by the way offers many products for sale) decided to offer up a banana keeper (calling it a Banana Bunker) as its latest product it caught many people's eye (shall we say).

My oh my.

The best part, which has everyone talking, is that Groupon responded to every single comment about it. They engaged with the community who was having fun with it. They joined in the game, but kept their voice the entire time.

And guess what happens when a brand engages...it becomes their most popular initiative ever! My oh my.

THAT is worth writing home about.

Well done, Groupon, although I for one won't be buying one. My oh my.

What's your experience? JIM.

Cadbury Creme Eggs


It's amazing how spirited brand fans and followers can get.

It's Easter time so you know what that means...time for Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs. As my son would say, "it's tradition."

Well back in January there was a bit of a ruckus in the UK that had many people calling off Easter in advance. Apparently the brand made a change in the UK chocolate formula, altering in many people's minds the tradition that is the Cadbury Creme Egg.

Hello New Coke?

The UK accounts for about 2/3 of the worldwide consumption of these little goobers, so I guess they have a right to speak their mind. Just like when they were upset when the pack count went from six to five. Who ever heard of 5 eggs in a pack?

Well Easter is coming so I guess it all got settled...just increasing the hype for this traditional Easter candy even more.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, April 1

Volvo Life Paint



"The Best Way to Survive a Crash is Not to Crash"


Every week in my marketing class at NYU, each student has to bring in an example for "the week in marketing." They have to come prepared to talk about something they've seen or experienced in marketing that they find quite clever or innovative or thought provoking, or all of the above. It's a fun exercise we do every week to kick off our class.

Last night one of the students brought in a video for Volvo Life Paint from the UK.


Volvo Life Paint is a spray-on adhesive that cyclists can use to be more visible at night to motorists and pedestrians. While it's invisible during the day, it glows at night to make cyclists instantly more noticeable and thereby more avoidable to traffic. Helping to prevent deadly accidents caused by poor visibility in the dark. With more and more cyclists on our city streets, it's becoming a bigger and bigger issue. Volvo is trying to make us all safer.

Of course it's not just for cyclists, the adhesive can be applied to anything and lasts about a week...when it can be easily washed off and reapplied.

We got into an interesting discussion as a class about why Volvo would introduce such a product. In essence this is a brilliant brand extension around its car safety positioning, extending beyond just keeping car drivers and passengers safe but also those around them who's safety could be also be jeopardized.

It's a classic use of a brand positioning to extend the brand. And when you look at the Volvo mission statement, then you'll see it's also a very natural extension:

"By 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured by a new Volvo."

That's quite a promise. Innovations like Volvo Life Paint is one more step in the right direction.

What's your experience? JIM.