Thursday, March 31

Go Ahead and Eat in the Car

My latest on Entrepreneur ... while I've resisted the temptation for years, I've now realized that it's okay to eat in the car and it's okay to keep a cluttered desk. Life is messy!

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, March 30

Podcast -- Balancing Being a Parent and an Entrepreneur

I was recently asked to be a guest on the Parent Entrepreneur HQ podcast. It was such a blast reliving the journey of balancing being a parent with being an entrepreneur. And Mary Kathryn Johnson was a hoot to talk to!

Click here to give it a listen.

And tell me...what's your experience!?! JIM.

Sunday, March 27

Never Been a Better Time to Be a Dad

Here's my guest post on Top Daddies ... where I talk about the changing face of fatherhood at home and in marketing.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, March 23

New Spin on #FriendsAreWaiting from Budweiser

As a culture, we've tried every which way but loose to get people to NOT drink and drive. Celebrities, politicians, bloggers, influencers, moms, dads, and brands have all pushed the message out that the last thing ANYONE should do is to drink and drive. Even the beer, wines, and spirits brands have taken their turn to promote responsible drinking.

As well they should.

So where's the one place we could turn to that perhaps hasn't already been tried and perhaps could be effective? As they say, when in doubt try babies and dogs.

I'm all for the dogs!

In this new spot, mega-brand Budweiser uses man's best friend to show us the spirit of responsible drinking and making smart choices. The #FriendsAreWaiting campaign isn't brand new, but this story puts a new spin on it. And may just get through to people.

Let's hope.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, March 22

Monday, March 21

Powerade - The Rose that Grew from Concrete

It's March Madness and all the love of brackets that comes with it.

But something special emerged this year...this creative execution from Powerade proving that fighting adversity and staying committed to your goals can lead to greatness.

Or better said, we should all work to be that "rose that grew from concrete."

Well done, Powerade. So inspiring.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, March 18

Nike Self Lacing Sneaker

First it was velcro, and everyone was up in arms.

How are kids going to learn how to tie their shoes?

We got over it.

Well now Nike is introducing the first self-lacing sneaker.

How are kids going to learn how to tie their shoes?

We'll get over it.

You simply press the positive or negative button on the front of the sneaker and it either laces up or loosens up. Presumably for a better fit, and better performance. Right in line with Brand Nike.

Something Michael J. Fox dreamed of years ago in Back to the Future!

Just one of several new innovations from Nike, launched this week, and out by the holidays.

I love it. What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, March 17

Feedback is a Gift

I've been doing a continuous column on Entrepreneur lately on advice at home and at work.

This week's column is relevant for anyone...entrepreneur, parent, or not. Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Wednesday, March 16

A New Look for Abercrombie & Fitch?

What a difference a day makes. And a new CEO. And a new brand strategy.

Abercrombie & Fitch recently released its new look and its new clothing strategy.

Basically, the brand went from this...

To this...

Man bun and all!

Gone are the pecs, and the big logos, and the clean cuts...gone is the slick, smooth, college look.

Also gone, hopefully, is the "cool kids" positioning and reinforcing the need for body perfection. That's what sold me off of the brand, and evidently many others.

The website doesn't appear to be updated, so truthfully we have to see how this all plays out. We also have to see how it rolls on the women's side, where they similarly had a change of "look" a few months back. I'm not sure how much traction that got the brand, but time will tell.

And I'll be watching...what's your experience?  JIM

Monday, March 14

Lane Bryant ... Not Sure I Understand

When I read my newsfeed yesterday and the story about banned commercials from Lane Bryant filled the flow, like many others I found myself scratching my head.

Too much skin? Too racy? Is there such a thing anymore?

I'm not qualified to comment, actually, nor am I in a position to take a stand. But I will say that those I follow (and vice versa) were certainly screaming "foul" and "double standard." And evidently not for the first time with this particular brand and this particular topic.

I'll let you be the judge.

Was it too much? Too much what?

What's your experience? JIM.

Sunday, March 13

Stella ... Buy a Lady a Drink

I'm so impressed with the latest campaign from Stella Artois, as in the beer brand.

The brand made its signature glass famous; it's a bit of an icon in a way. For me, using a custom glass to become a symbol for the brand was quite brilliant and innovative at the time. I use it as an example in my classroom and client meetings all the time.

Now the brand is taking that glass to the next level, by giving it a charitable reason for being as well. For every limited edition glass sold, the brand is donating five years worth of water to one person in need through the organization

And if you know me, you know I'm a sucker for a great tagline and in this case the brand does not disappoint...

Buy a Lady a Drink!

Love it! What's your experience? JIM

Friday, March 11

Under Armour Celebrates Michael Phelps in His Final Olympics

Under Armour. I simply love this brand, and I simply admire its marketing.

It doesn't try too hard to complicate its product line or over-saturate its messaging. It simply demonstrates aspiration. Aspiration in life, not just sports.

I started out as a casual consumer...a piece or two here and there, not really consciously buying into the brand. But then the brand psyche started to weave into my own psyche and it started to become more a part of me. Then I engaged with the products and started to enjoy them as well.

Campaigns like the one featuring Misty Copeland helped to propel my buy-in. I didn't even know Misty Copeland, but the brand helped me to realize that indeed I really do know the essence of Misty Copeland.

I found her inspiring, and I found her struggling with the same things that I do. Ironically. Inspiring.

This new campaign featuring Michael Phelps has thrown me over the loyalty edge. We've collectively watched this man grow up over the years, and we've watched him work hard, sacrifice, and make mistakes along his journey.

There's no doubt he works hard. There's no doubt he is once again building his brand, albeit an evolved brand.

But it's the closing line in this particular piece of content that sold me..."it's what you do in the dark that puts you in the light." Exactly.

Or as my father always says (and I've quoted in my book), "It takes a whole lot of work to be lucky."

Having spent my adult life getting up at 5:00am every morning, followed up by often working into the wee hours of the night, I can relate. Sleep? Nah.

And like any good content marketer, the brand followed up with a behind the scenes look at his reaction to his own story (right along side his fiance). So sincere. We are now seeing the real Michael Phelps. Exactly. And the real Under Armour brand.

"It's what you do in the dark that puts you in the light."

Congratulations Michael, we look forward to watching you in action. And you too, Under Armour.

What's your experience?  JIM

PS - This is so good that I almost forgot that it's what is likely to be the first in a string of Olympics-themed content from brands. Stay tuned, although it will be hard to beat!

Thursday, March 10

Grab a Margarita!

Just do it...go out on a Wednesday night and have a Margarita with a friend, or a co-worker, or your spouse. Or all three!

Click here to read my latest on Entrepreneur.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, March 8

IBM Artificial Intelligence

It's finally happening...artificial intelligence is leaving the Hollywood movie studios and coming to our homes. The problem is that Hollywood has conditioned us to be fearful of artificial intelligence. In every plot, it ends up killing us and taking over the world.

Which is why this new campaign from IBM featuring film maker Ridley Scott and Star Wars legend Carrie Fisher is so brilliant. Brilliant.

So brilliant that it speaks for itself. Here with Carrie Fisher, who is helping those who need help coping...

And again with Ridley Scott, talking shop...

Like, dislike? What's your experience? JIM

Monday, March 7

Alexander HamilPeep

It's Easter season which means a very important pop culture phenomenon comes back to life...Marshmallow Peeps. A fan favorite, to say the least.

Another completely unrelated cultural phenomenon is happening at the same time...the Broadway Show Hamilton.

Who could ever imagine that these two worlds could collide?!?

Enter The Washington Post, who conducts an annual diorama contest right around this time of year. Yet another unrelated cultural phenomenon. Make that three worlds colliding.

The best entry, IMHO? One contestant completely recreated Hamilton using only Marshmallow Peeps! Fabulous doesn't even describe it.

This is the holy grail of marketing...when a consumer, without you even knowing it, inserts your brand into pop culture giving it a new relevance and hitting an all new audience.

Alexander HamilPeep indeed!

When the winner is announced, I sure hope the brand rewards this team. They've propelled the brand to a whole new level.  Bravo, bravo, bravo!

What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, March 6

JetBlue Reach Across the Aisle

I love this very timely "social experiment," created as a piece of content and then marketed by the airline brand JetBlue.

I think we are all collectively tired of disagreeing on everything, and fatigued from feeling like there's never going to be a compromise. Ever.

This little ditty gives us a bit of relief...and a bit of a smile.

While I'm not sure how it's tied to the brand's equity, it does a great job of reinforcing (softly but not so softly) all of the destinations serviced by JetBlue. It would have been even more compelling if the crowd was trying to decide on a political issue, but that may be asking too much and would have taken it even further from the brand.

But a man can hope!

Let's just sit back and enjoy it. And yes the CEO is quite media-friendly!

What's your experience?  JIM

Thursday, March 3

Let It Out!

Ever feel like going on a rant. Once in awhile it's ok. here first. It's on Entrepreneur!

What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, March 2

Lands' End & Gloria Steinam

As Kenny Rogers says, "you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." (sorry, just dated myself there!)

Seems as if Lands' End decided to fold 'em ... fold on a new and perhaps unique marketing point of view, that is.

Long story short, as a way to start to become (and to be perceived as) a global brand, the CEO launched an interview series called "Legends" featuring iconic figures in our culture and living history.

One installment features Gloria Steinem and was met with immediate controversy...including many groups threatening a boycott and some Catholic Schools threatening to stop buying their uniforms from the brand. The reaction was pretty swift, even in this digital age.

As a result, the brand swiftly pulled the interview online and in an Easter catalog. The brand also decided to pull its support of the ERA's Coalition Fund for Women's Equality. All in an instant.

And then the backlash from that move kicked into gear in response, in an instant, when other shoppers threatened to stop shopping Lands' End for pulling the interview.

Surely, you can't please everyone and no brand should try.

I'll be honest and say that I didn't read the interview. I don't need to because I'm not commenting on the content itself. I'm looking at this from a marketing perspective. When you're a global brand and you're trying to connect with a global audience, you have to know when to hold onto your point of view and know when to fold. Unless you've made a colossal and offensive mistake, in my mind you have to take a position and you have to stick to it.

It's proper branding and in my book proper targeting. You need to understand your core audience, what's important to them, and focus on it...all the while sticking to who you are as a brand. You can't roam around and then expect that consumers understand how to engage with you...or expect them to buy into your brand. Not all of them anyway.

Witness Tylenol with #HowWeFamily or Honey Maid with #ThisIsWholesome or Cheerios or Expedia or all the other brands that have made a statement and stuck with it despite controversy and criticism.

There's a lot to be learned here, not the least of which is crisis/issues planning for when you launch any marketing campaign. Any brand needs to anticipate the market's reaction and plan out response scenarios. I would advocate that immediately pulling the campaign with an apology isn't necessarily a issues management plan.

We live in a marketing world where being focused and bold gets rewarded by consumers. Whereas trying to please everyone with everything is nearly impossible.

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

Tuesday, March 1

Lessons Learned - The 2016 Oscars

Suffice it to say that, for the most part, the Oscars didn't really resonate with people this year. Honestly, it's pretty much the same format every year with the same flow every year with the same kind of casting every year, so what do we all really expect? Are we waiting for something radically different to happen?

I'm not completely sure, but I do think the answer would come in a complete overhaul, which is unlikely to happen. But in the meantime, I did walk away with a few "lessons learned" that I can certainly apply to my everyday life both at home and at work.

I try to turn every moment into a learning occasion...and as dreadful as this year's event was, I can still pull through a few things to learn.

Put it in context. Chris Rock's monologue, while long winded and a little more than repetitive, was well done because he put the issues he was attacking into context. He attempted to push hype into reality, which makes tackling an issue so much easier. Lesson learned: when trying to resolve an issue or communicate a complicated problem, put it into context. (and a sense of humor doesn't hurt).

Be Authentic. Lady Gaga's performance of her Oscar-nominated song was chilling because she was coming from a place of authenticity. She wrote from the heart, she wrote personally, and she wrote authentically. Then when she brought her "chorus" to life the authenticity rose to an unprecedented level.  Lesson learned: when you speak or write, especially when again tackling a tough issue, speak from your heart and speak from a place of authenticity. (and surround yourself with others of the same).

Stand for Something. The best acceptance speeches didn't drone on about selfish matters and laundry lists of obligated thank you notes. Leo didn't use his few minutes to selfishly say he finally won, he used it to raise awareness about an important issue, authentically tied to the movie he just mastered. Lesson learned: when you have a stage and can say something, take a stand and say something important! (and be clear and concise about it).

Sure we can comment, share, and post about the dresses and the drama of it all, because honestly that is a lot of fun. But be sure to take away something meaningful at the same time. I always try.

What's your experience? JIM