Kodak recently released a "film" titled Understanding. It's described as a poignant portrayal of love and understanding and I would have to agree. It's shot entirely using Kodak equipment, and of course it features a Kodak camera but that's honestly not the point. The message is clear...Kodak understands our lives and wants to be a part of it.
Give it a watch:
Hits me on so many levels, both as a marketer and a human...and as a dad...and as a dad who has a dad like that.
I truly believe that the greatest gift of all is helping someone else.
For me, helping someone overcome a burden or struggle is where I try to be the most helpful. It's the entire reason why I wrote my bookOut and About Dad...to help people realize that they can jump over the roadblocks that come up in life and be happy and successful.
Whatever happy and successful means for any of us.
I recently received a Facebook message from a young man who reached out to tell me that my book helped him. That's also the greatest gift of all...having someone tell you that you've helped them. WOW!
His words really moved me, and completely reminded me why I wrote the book. In many ways, we need to be helping each other now more than ever!
Here's what he wrote to me:
Your story is really inspirational. As a young man who is struggling to confront his sexuality you have burned a tiny light of hope in my heart for building a family...Please be proud that you gave someone a little joy and comfort through your life. Stay blessed!
This time of year I love clicking into holiday videos...it's one of the most wonderful parts of the most wonderful time of the year. And I love even more when friends send me links for videos to view.
I got several messages yesterday with links to this video message from Microsoft...beautiful.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to compare the effort nor the production value of that Microsoft work to the holiday card from our agency this year, but I couldn't help but notice the similarity in message...
Perhaps we are all inspired by the same spirit this year? Perhaps we were even inspired by this little ditty from so many years ago (recently remastered)...
Perhaps we can just all come together? What's your experience? JIM
Every year, virtually every agency creates a holiday card to send out to its clients and partners. And virtually every agency does them virtually now.
I guess in a way they replace the gifts we used to give to clients during the holidays, as procurement departments have taken gift-giving off the table. We used to spend hours and hours thinking through a cool gift to give our clients, one that would reflect the kind of agency we are and the kind of relationship we have with our clients. Now we spend those hours creating a holiday card instead.
Adweek did a roundup this week of a bunch of those said cards...you can click here to check them all out. It's kinda fun (for me anyway) to see the range of holiday greetings and the personalities of the agencies come shining through. Our agency, Cohn & Wolfe, made the roundup which I was also proud to see.
If you'd like to see our "card," you can also look at it here:
No matter the style of the message, I think the cards all have one thing in common...looking forward to celebrating in whatever form provides personal time to spend with family and friends. Happy Holidays to you all!
National Geographic is making history with its first cover featuring a transgender woman, and a young girl at that. While the headline speaks to a broader topic about the "Gender Revolution," it's the subhead that speaks volumes:
"The best thing about being a girl is, now I don't have to pretend to be a boy."
The magazine has already taken some social media heat for its revolutionary cover, with people citing that this topic isn't in keeping with the magazine.
I couldn't disagree more, from a branding perspective and as a father and frankly as a human. I applaud the effort and am thankful for the bravery...both from the magazine and from its cover "model."
For those with questions and comments on the cover (and specifically why there were two versions)...the magazine posted responses here. Just click to review. Very well thought out, IMHO.
What's your experience? JIM
P.S. - My publisher is running a special holiday promotion of Out and About Dad - BUY ONE, GIFT ONE FREE. Click here!
Right around this time of year we start to see all the year-end lists. It's just plain fun to think back on the year.
Before I do my annual best blog posts or biggest marketing moments lists, I thought I'd pick out just three moments this year that had an impact on me.
#2016Top3 if you will.
Biggest pic of the year - I knew when I saw Donald Trump on the side of the Empire State Building when he picked up Ohio that it was over. In Hunger Games style, it really was over.
Most moving performance of the year - goes to Kelly Clarkson and her performance during the last season of American Idol. I had never heard the song before but I figured it out as it rolled along. Wow, just wow!
Most read blog post of the year - from me anyway - is the Open Letter I wrote to Barack Obama, from one dad to another. I just loved hearing everyone's reaction to it.
Nike just released a series of (hopefully) viral videos on the state of our popular culture with a simple message: put down the political commentary, set aside the celebrity obsessions, and take a break from social posts and just go running.
Are We Running Today?
I love it!
Perfect little social-video posts to remind us to take a break from the social-video posts and exercise. We all need a break!
Which is what I'm going to do right now. Once I finish posting this!
What's your experience? JIM
PS - Get some exercise and then read a book! Special holiday BUY ONE, GIFT ONE FREE offer on Out and About Dad. Click here.
You may not be familiar with it, but Breeze is a laundry detergent made by Unilever and sold throughout the world.
The brand tried a little social experiment recently to test moms' patience and perceptions of their children, as it relates to getting dirty. Something close to the brand's heart, and evidently close to mom's heart as well.
Here's a video that is going viral about it, called "The Good Experiment:"
Adorable...not just because there are cute little kids but because the brand also resisted the temptation to flood us with product features. Chances are we know how a laundry detergent gets clothes clean, so more importantly we want to get to know the brand and make an emotional connection. Breeze went for it.
There's a great article out about Michael Phelps at Adweek.
Adweek? Yes, Adweek.
The premise of the article is that Michael Phelps is entering the second act of his career. He's no longer a swimmer, but instead a working family man. A businessman with a family. An active dad balancing work and family responsibilities.
Just like so many of us.
I've personally always been a big fan, partly because we've all witnessed Michael grow up and I've long admired how he's taken responsibility for the highs and lows of his life. And he's had both, but he's always owned both. And now he's owning the next phase...fatherhood, but with a new career.
A pretty successful career, at that, which is very inspiring. But it's his take on fatherhood that is even more inspiring. He is making changes in his career so that he can be around for his baby.
Just like so many of us.
Here's just one of his latest moves, for Beats by Dr. Dre, along with an ensemble of others.
Way to go dad...looking forward to following you. And here's hoping others follow in your footsteps as well.
This is a pretty cool little promotion, tied to our popular culture and how we now consume entertainment.
To launch its new season "A Year in the Life," Gilmore Girls and Netflix are giving away "binge candles." You simply light the candle when you start the first episode, and as you binge watch all four "Seasons" in the "A Year in the Life," the candle perfectly burns through each 90-minute layer as you burn through the episodes. And each layer is scented to match the season.
Pretty clever, particularly if you're a "Gilmore Girl!"
Are you watching? Are you burning? What's your experience? JIM
I’ve been doing movie tie-in promotions for most of my
career, so I have to admit that I have a soft spot for them. I just love seeing
how a brand can tie its equity to the essence of a movie.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Products with Disney. Been there.
Spider Man with Kellogg’s.Done that.
Which is why I’ve been loving watching the roll out of
merchandise tie-ins for the new movie Trolls. The film is all over the place from
food to furnishings to clothing to accessories to beauty care.
And even paint. Yes, paint.
True Value Hardware is running a promotion for paint that’s
been inspired by the True Colors of the Trolls movie. I’ve personally never noticed the paint selection at True Value, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood. And perhaps that's the point of this promotion: to raise awareness of the selection of quality paints at True Value. Score! This promotion is clever and creative, putting the brand squarely in the colorful
world of coloring your world...helping them show their true colors if you will.
And I just love the retail display, captured by my
What’s your experience?JIM
PS - Just for fun, the True Colors theme song from the movie. Those of us who have been around long enough will recognize the lyric. A little something for everyone, I suppose.
I've been in Brazil all week, visiting our agency's new office in Sao Paulo. I've been here many times the last couple of years, but there's been no trip quite like this. Not only have I been able to spend more time here than ever before, but I've also been a small part of the tragic loss of one of the country's futbol teams from this week's plane crash in Colombia.
It's been heart-breaking to hear about. A true tragedy.
It's also been heart-warming to see the sport's and the world's reaction to the tragedy as well.
Wednesday night, the night that would have been a game between two South American futbol rivals, turned into an international tribute of unity as two rival teams/countries came together in the stadium to mourn, in front of thousands and thousands of people who shared their grief. Grief that hits the world stage.
Which is exactly how the world should behave. Sure, we can be rivals and we can spare against each other. But eventually we should come together as well, especially during a tough time. During any time.
I'm honored to have been in this great country at this moment, and I share in the great loss.
We think of Facebook as the ultimate medium for connectivity. For me personally, I'm connected to friends from so many aspects of my life...childhood, high school, college, jobs...some I've never even met but we share a common experience and have chosen to connect over it.
It's the magic of Facebook IMHO.
But the problem is that if you don't have internet access then you don't have access to the connectivity of Facebook. Big problem on many levels, especially when you think about how the world operates today.
This is a problem that Facebook is trying to fix itself.
Self-serving? A bit...if you don't have internet access then you can't become a Facebook user and presumably the brand is looking to constantly expand its community to meet its business goals.
But truthfully, the initiative is so much more powerful than that. Providing internet access does more than just open up Facebook to those rural and under-served communities, it opens up the world.
Opens up the world! And for that I commend Facebook.
This past weekend was Black Friday...and I say "weekend" because Black Friday is no longer just on Friday, it's the entire holiday weekend. I, for one, am a good example as I went Black Friday shopping on Tuesday night before any of the crowds hit.
This year saw more shoppers than ever, although with very different shopping behaviors. I, for one, am also a good example as I never participate in Black Friday yet this year I couldn't help myself and bought a tv. For myself, not even as a gift!
Deep discounts ruled the shopping carts, to no surprise (the tv I bought was under $300!!). So although there were more shoppers, the average cart was lower than prior years. Most analysts are thanking deeper discounts for that phenomenon from retailers across the board including luxury outlets like Neiman Marcus.
Online shopping wasn't reserved just for Cyber Monday, another "weekend" event. Online sales on Black Friday were bigger than ever too, thanks to the proliferation of shopping and price comparison apps that made shopping online easier than ever, even if you were standing in a brick and mortar outlet. And of course thanks to Amazon as they took the lead online. Naturally.
Online sales on Monday did end up surpassing Friday, but again it's better to measure total weekend impact than just one day...proving once again that online sales keep growing and growing year over year not only in volume but in household penetration as well.
The question is...Is Black Friday over? Not by a long shot. Calling it a "weekend" isn't even fair anymore, as it's more like a season that is just beginning. Analysts are calling for more and more deep discounts as we count down the holiday shopping days.
I find myself looking for any excuse to find something "different" on my social streams other than politics these days. Luckily, the holidays are approaching which gives us many opportunities to escape.
And escape we shall...into holiday advertising, one of my favorite things of the year. I posted a few classics last week, which you can take a look at here.
But I've been keeping track of new ones this season, and I have to say that the Brits never disappoint.
We can always count on luxury retailer John Lewis, and in fact one of my all time favorite holiday commercials is from John Lewis in 2015 featuring a sellout plush toy named #MontyThePenguin:
But this year we have #BusterTheBoxer, complete with a continuing story online if you keep clicking:
Sainsbury is another British company, a grocery retailer, that never disappoint either. Here's a classic from 2014 that put this company on my radar, for good reason...it was inspired by real life events:
Sainsbury returns this year with a blockbuster spot featuring James Corden of Carpool Karoke fame:
I could go on and on, mostly because this is a lot more fun than reading my Facebook feed right now.
Do you have a favorite commercial for the holidays? What's your experience? JIM
I realize that our social feeds are filled with people expressing their opinions. And so they should. I appreciate all of the sentiment, I really do. And while I didn't necessarily want to pile on, a colleague said something to me the other night that has stuck with me...and I think it best captures how I'm feeling.
Well it's finally come...election day...perhaps one of the most important political moments in our collective histories. I personally cannot wait for it all to be over! I'm tired of the arguing and the debating, mostly because it's all arguing and no debating.
But from a marketing perspective, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what I believe are the last television ads produced by each candidate. Just for fun, if there's any room left for fun this election season.
It's fun to see the stark contrast between the two...something we can agree on despite who we support.
Ladies first. Here's Hillary's final words:
And now here's Donald Trump's final words:
Like I said, I'll be glad when it's over. I'm hitting the poles at 6:00am Tuesday am. What's your experience? JIM
I think I can safely say that almost all of us can't wait for Election Day to be over. It's been exhausting, to say the least. The very least. I'm looking forward to the calm that hopefully comes after the storm, and I'm looking for some of the hate to go away.
I'm also looking to get my social feeds back. Our streams have been littered, and in some cases poisoned, by the intensity that has been this election season. I've been ready to turn it all off at a moment's notice, but am now happy there's only a little bit of time left.
But I have been impressed, I must say, at one particular feature on Facebook that is new (at least to my eye) this year...you can view your ballot directly on your news feed. I didn't quite believe it at first, so I clicked. And sure enough, there was my ballot based on my neighborhood. Upper West Side of Manhattan. Now I know not only where to vote, but who to vote for when I step into the booth. Hopefully making the voting time shorter, and the lines shorter too.
Now that is public service, geo-located public service at that. Adding true value to what has been a bit of a value-less and endless debate. And hopefully, at the end of the day, making it easier for people to go out and vote. Because that's what counts.
Something monumental happened in sports happened this week...the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, an event that was 108 years in the making. Unbelievable.
While I'm not a big sports fan, I am a fan of pop culture. And I'm particularly a fan of how pop culture unites us. Even if you're not a Cubs fan, you have to smile just a little bit at this win after so many years.
I am certainly a big fan when a brand jumps in and becomes a legitimate part of the celebration.
Nike did just that...they jumped in when the Cubs won, as they've done before with big iconic moments in sports. This one takes the cake, however, in capturing the spirit of the Cubs win and the spirit of sports in general. It's a must-watch.
This is what makes Nike, well, Nike.
Along the same spirit, Budweiser brought back an icon to celebrate the win:
I mean, what's not to love here? What's your experience? JIM
Every year, right around this time of year, Starbucks releases its holiday red cup. It's a brand tradition that is generally met with great fanfare and great social commentary. Last year was one for the record books, when the cup was just plain 'ole red with no holiday decoration on it.
There was upset, to say the least. I know it might sound crazy, but consumers wait for the red cup reveal every year. I know consumers were hoping for a good red cup release this year...but we were all caught off guard...with green cups.
Green!?! Is green the new holiday cup? Green!?! Even I was caught off when I saw one sitting in a colleague's office.
Turns out it's not THE holiday cup, but it's a unity cup...presumably trying to bring us all together during this time of great debate and anger.
Yes the cup is green, but it also features a continuous line drawing that goes from one person to another to another in a symbol of unity. Honestly, we could use it right now.
So I guess we have to hang tight for the red cups while we get through this current period in our culture. I think that makes sense, quite honestly, because it's hard to think about holiday cheer right now when there's so much rhetoric and so much mud-slinging. Let's get that behind us and then come together for the holidays.
In the meantime, I'll be drinking out of a green cup.
Halloween happened literally just a minute ago, and we are already seeing messaging about Black Friday. The social feeds are coming alive with Black Friday!
Every year, Black Friday is a virtual and literal circus of deals with retails competing for attention online and off. With each retailer trying to outdo the other in terms of deeper and deeper discounts (online and off), earlier and earlier deals (online and off), and more and more hours open at brick and mortar locations. How early to open, particularly into the actual Thanksgiving holiday, has become just one of the latest games.
It's dizzying to say the least.
Last year, we saw a movement towards some retailers pulling back on the hysteria. Some stopped opening on Thanksgiving Day, and one in particular decided to stay closed on Black Friday...REI with their #OptOutside campaign.
Time will tell what happens this year, although certainly the hype has started. Will more retailers go the REI route or will more not be able to resist opening their stores earlier earlier earlier?
Here's a bit of a prediction, from a PRWeek article in which I am also quoted. I'd love to see more brands stick to who they are as a brand, and make the decision on how to handle Black Friday based on their brand equity. You're nothing as a brand if you're not consistent. We have REI as inspiration for that.
How will you show up for Black Friday? What's your experience? JIM
Every week in my graduate studies class at NYU, I ask the students to bring in something they observed in marketing that week. The examples they bring provide a rich buffet of marketing fodder to discuss.
One such example from the students was this "come back" video from Chipolte. Let's give credit where credit is due...the brand built its brand on content marketing that featured the essence of its business strategy: sustainable ingredients. The content marketing, over and over again, supported the business strategy and built a base of loyal consumers who bought into the concept.
But the brand has had some struggles along the way, and was forced off message for a bit. While dealing with supply chain issues, it had to put its content marketing strategy to the side.
Well Chipolte has recently come back to its roots, with a new campaign where Ingredients Reign...
...putting the brand right back on strategy. But is it enough to overcome what has become blurred messaging? Will it overshadow the noise of the business struggles that the brand has encountered?
According to my class, they aren't sure. They had envisioned a more dramatic shift from the brand to right the ship again. To which I reminded them that consistency is king when it comes to marketing. Consistency Reigns, to use the words of the brand.
Time will tell, as they say. What's your take? What's your experience? JIM
I am a marketing purist, so to speak. I was grounded in the fundamentals of brand management at Johnson & Johnson early in my career, and I live by those fundamentals on a daily basis. Of course technology has changed how we communicate in marketing now, but the fundamental principles in how to build a brand haven't really changed.
One of those principles is...once you define who you are as a brand, stick to it.
For example...we'd never see Dove introduced a line of color cosmetics, would we? We'd never see Tide introduce a line of dry cleaning establishments, would we? We'd never see Philadelphia Cream Cheese introduce a line of peanut butters, would we?
Or how about M&Ms introduce M&M's Caramels? You heard that right. The candy brand that "melts in your mouth not in your hand" is launching its first non-chocolate product in the Spring.
It evidently took a long time to figure out how to make M&M's Caramel, and I'm sure it took a long time to get everyone on board to walk away from chocolate. The candy coated shell around a morsel of chocolate is how the brand was born...I'm sure it was fundamentally hard to change that.
But as a marketing purist, I can live with it. :)
It's still keeping to the essence of what the brand is all about...candy coated morsel of sweetness that isn't messy and is easy to share. And it's fun, which is exactly what the brand is all about.
Can't wait to try them! What's your experience? JIM
Well I guess Bud Light knows it too...which is why it's putting sports team on its bottles and cans.
Makes perfect sense when you think about one of the biggest drinking occasions...sports events. It's going to make inventory management interesting, I am sure, but I'm also sure they have figured out a local inventory schematic that gives the home team advantage!
In my first marketing book, The Experience Effect, I wrote about the power of building a consistent and engaging brand experience across all marketing touchpoints. All touchpoints. From the website to the social channels to the pillows in the waiting room at the company headquarters. All touchpoints.
Here's a brand that gets my point: Lego. Even the brand's shopping bags reinforce the brand. And the brand's shopping experience at brick and mortar (which is fabulous, by the way).
If I saw someone walking down the street with that bag, it would make me want to run and go buy. Exactly.
Let's just say that Samsung is having a tough time lately. I first heard about the brand's woes on a plane...when the flight attendant said that no one could use or charge their Samsung Galaxy Note7 on board due to safety issues. I wasn't sure if it was because of terrorism or what, so I quickly did a search before we took off.
Got it, right at the top of the page...all about Samsung safety. As a marketer, I sure hope the brand had a issues/crisis plan in place to be able to manage a recall of this magnitude. It is surely a hit on the brand as consumers process their own reactions and take next steps.
As marketers, managing a brand isn't always easy. As in life, there are good times and bad...it's just all in how you manage it.
Here's another example on the flip side of the Samsung Galaxy Note7...the Samsung Safety Truck. It was created in Argentina to help reduce severe car accidents that often happen with trucks on the roads. A brilliant use of the brand's own technology to solve a bigger problem.
Here's a brand taking responsibility for its actions...having these kinds of trucks on the road pose a threat to other motorists so they are trying to do something to make the situation better. Just like they are managing the current recall on their new smartphones.
As brand marketers, we should all be thinking about how we can help solve problems in our consumers' lives, particularly when our own brand is central to it.
CoverGirl joined a growing (but still short) list of brands that are breaking gender barriers (Clean &Clear and Barbie just to name two) with the announcement of its first male brand ambassador...James Charles.
James is already a star in his own right. He's a makeup artist and a mega social media success with a huge following. His use of makeup is all about "self expression," to use his own words.
The brand announced the new spokesperson via social media, with Instagram posts from a photo shoot with Katy Perry, also a CoverGirl. Evidently there will be a new campaign featuring this new CoverBoy coming soon.
This will be one to track. CoverGirl is an iconic female brand, so to see it break down societal norms is nothing short of amazing.
Campbell's Soup just launched a new campaign that partners with IBM's Watson to deliver customized food choices and recipes that are relevant to not only to the weather but also to your lifestyle...in conjunction with IBM's recently purchased The Weather Company.
Seems like perfect timing for the stormy weather some of us have been experiencing...and perfect timing for what could be a harsh winter for some of us.
So when you click onto Weather.com, you'll not only see the weather but you'll see some Campbell's Soup suggestions based on the weather in your area that have been customized for you.
Pretty cool, actually. Love seeing an iconic brand like Campbell's Soup use new technology to add value to our lives.
This is actually quite brilliant. Tinder is partnering with Spotify to add music to the entire dating/swiping experience. Brilliant.
Let's face it: for most of us, music is an important part of our lives. Music choices often create bonds between friends...and lovers. So why not get a peek into the musical choices of would-be dates? Why not be able to see who else shares your musical tastes? Why not add a little flair to the entire swiping experience?
Why not pair music with someone you're looking to pair up with?
So now you can attach your "personal anthem" (as the brand says) to your Tinder profile, create song lists for others to crawl, and listen to those of others as you explore about your potential Tinder mates.
Quite smart...quite fun. And so obvious. Sometimes really good marketing comes from a very obvious pairing.
As Dick Clark would have said, "It's got a good beat and I can swipe to it." (totally dated myself there)
(This post also appears on Huffington Post so click here if you'd rather read it there).
I'm a marketer, so I look at everything through the lens of branding. Even this year's Presidential Election.
A fundamental tenet in marketing is to purposefully develop your brand character. Brand character is when you specifically define upfront the kind of personality you want your brand to exhibit when it interacts with your customers. Some call it brand personality, some call it tone of voice. It's literally choosing human characteristics and applying them to how you want your brand to behave in the marketplace.
Every successful brand has brand character...from L'Oreal to Ford to Nike.
Brand character can become a competitive advantage...it certainly is for Nike over its rivals like Adidas, Reebok, or New Balance. Under Armour is carving out a new brand character in the category to be even more competitive with Nike.
Never before have we seen brand character play such an important role in competition than in this year's Presidential race. There are two very different brand characters in play, and I would argue that after the VP debate we now have four.
In fact, I would wager that it's brand character that we are all debating. I honestly don't think the decision this time around is about policy and I'm not even sure it's about ability (although for some that is a deciding factor). I think the main deciding factor is brand character, with each candidate pointing out the character flaws in the other.
Yes, these are people, so I could easily be calling this personality. But in this case, in this election year, it's brand character. Hillary and Donald are brands; no two ways about it. They have each served themselves up as brands with goals and objectives and a marketing plan to make sure they win. And their brand characters have been steadfastly defined and defended throughout the entire campaign, front and center. So too now for their running mates.
When it comes to brand character, consistency is king. Never before have we seen two candidates so consistent. Their brand characters have never wavered throughout their campaigns, and their brand characters have been at the center of the campaigns. Their brands are what they are...fully baked. Honestly I don't think they even have the ability to change their brands even if they wanted to. Arguably, they've tried with no success. Their brand characters are so a part of their brands that you can't separate them. Front and center.
So net net, we are basically making the decision of a lifetime based on brand characters. Well as a marketer I guest that's ok but as a citizen it makes me more than a little nervous.