Tuesday, April 26

Auto China 2016

I had the honor and the pleasure of attending the Beijing Auto Show this week, one of the world's biggest and most extravagant trade shows of any trade, including automotive.

As I walked around and took in the sights and sounds of the show, I marveled at the high-energy music, lazers, lights, videos, and yes even some dancers. Oh, and avalanche of balloons and the loads of party favors.

I marveled yes, at first, and then it got to be too much.

It quickly became total sensory overload, and a bit overwhelming. More than just a bit. Sure, if you love your car brand then you are going to be all in on the display. But when looking at the show in its totality, it was overload of car after car after car.

There were some old cars, and some new cars, some China cars, and some out of the blue cars. Cars. Everywhere the eye could see, all you could see was cars.

It is the Auto Show, after all, but that's not the point.

All I really saw was an overload and a sea of sameness. All the brands looked and felt the same. Bright lights, big city, big brands...and a big extravaganza. Big time. In looking back, I couldn't tell you one thing from another. Other than it was big. "Go big or go home," must have been the theme of the day.

The lesson learned? Big isn't always better. Louder just might be just louder, not necessarily clearer. And what others have done before you, is well, just what others have done before you. As in five minutes ago.

Differentiate! Break through the clutter! Separate from the noise! Be your brand, not someone else's brand.

That's what makes a trade show an ownable trade show, regardless of the category. That's what makes a brand, actually.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 25

The Brands of Coachella

I'm 53 years old and I've never been to Coachella. I'm 53 years old, and I just went to Coachella. I'm proof, along with a few others, that you really can be over 25 and attend Coachella. Double 25, as I like to say. #Double25

Actually, truth be told, I was there for work but I brought my under-25 daughter so I could have some street creds, or festival creds better said. She wore the part perfectly, and it inspired me to try to do the same, at double 25.

The work portion included two client activations on site, which were fabulously done. Perfectly in keeping with #CoachellaStyle, and perfectly in keeping with brand essence. As all good marketing should.

I have to say, though, that our two clients were among a very short list of brands on-site. I went into it thinking that there would be dozens of brand activations, but honestly there were very few.

Apple was heavy-handed with Apple Pay, as was American Express as their partner. You basically couldn't buy anything, beer included, without getting hit with an Apple device and a message about American Express. You could only buy one kind of beer, Heineken, and one kind of wine, Cupcake.

The other brands were less in-your-face, in separate tents that provided a more personalized experience... rather than waiting in line with loads of people.

The lesson learned? There could easily be a lot more brand activations! Lots more. But if your brand is going to Coachella, you need to offer a Coachella experience. You can't force fit your own persona without customizing it for the occasion...or you risk looking like you're just trying to sell stuff.

H&M was actually selling Coachella fashions. Brilliant.

So in other words, if you are going to do Coachella, then you have to do Coachella. #CoachellaStyle

What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, April 20

Authenticity - Lessons Learned for Entrepreneurs

Our agency just finished its fourth annual study on brand authenticity. Since I write for Entrepreneur, I thought it might be cool to show how it authenticity applies to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Entrepreneurs can have a unique hold on brand authenticity, IMHO.

Click here to give it a read.  

Tuesday, April 19

Upworthy - Dads Doing Braids

This video captures it all, as far as I'm concerned.

The modern day dad. The modern day dad helping other fathers be dads.

Organizations designed to help the modern day dad be a good dad.

Video content that celebrates it all.

'Nuff said, other than...Well done, Upworthy! You're establishing quite a brand for yourself.

What's your experience? JIM

Authenticity - Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Cohn & Wolfe (the global communications agency where I work) recently released its fourth annual study on brand authenticity.

In it, one message rang loud and clear: actions speak louder than words.

I took a spin on authenticity for Huffington Post...click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, April 15

We Are Going Backwards

This election year and all this hatred has me upset ... so I wrote about it on HuffPo.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, April 14

Make Yourself Lucky

This week's post at Entrepreneur is about a pet peeve of mine.

"You're so lucky."

Click here to see what I mean.

What's your experience?  JIM.

Saturday, April 9

Do You Really Want To Know?

Here's a post I wrote for GetNakedGuru.com ... "getting naked" is all about getting real.

Brian, who is the Get Naked Guru, asked me to write about having those tough conversations with your kids. Like the birds and the bees. Like pregnancy. Like telling them you're gay. Oh yeah, there's that.

Click here to give it a read and let me know what you think.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, April 6

Coca-Cola, Remastered

We are quite familiar with music getting remixed and remastered...I've got catalogs of my fav tunes from vinyl redone for CD and then redone for iTunes. It keeps the master alive and sounding fresh for today's technology. And today's generation.

I'm not sure I've ever seen that done in marketing or advertising, though, where some of the work is just as "classic" as those favorite tunes.

Until yesterday ... when I saw this vintage, infamous spot from Coca-Cola called "Hilltop." A classic from 1971 now remastered and color-corrected for 2016. Perhaps thanks to the Mad Men finale, where it was featured prominently?

I think it's fair to say that the messaging was ahead of its time, and very inspiring...

I remember vividly, "I'd like to buy a world a Coke." Now maybe my kids will too! A not-so-subtle signal that the brand has been remastered all along these years as well.

A simple little tactic, bringing back some memories. It would be even cooler if they actually did more with it....interviews with the cast, behind the scenes from the director, completely remade with today's generation...oh the brainstorm ideas!

What other great pieces of advertising could be remastered and brought back to life? Where's the beef?

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, April 4

Sunday, April 3

Mark Zuckerberg for H&M

I love a good April Fools' Day joke. And I love when brands participate...shows a sense of humor, a knowledge of pop culture, and a realization of "we get it."

Each year I'm never disappointed to see the lineup of brands having fun with their April Fools' Day jokes.

My favorite this year, by far, is from H&M where it debuted a new line designed in collaboration with Mark Zuckerberg to give us all "one less thing to think about." Famous for his signature simple look, this new line replicates to a minimum...one pair of jeans and seven identical grey t-shirts.

One less thing to think about in the morning, that's for sure.

While the line is compact, the website certainly isn't. It's done to a t!

The catch? Mark Zuckerberg and/nor H&M had nothing to do with it. In fact, the creator has so far been undiscovered.

The brilliant part is that the essence of the two brands (Mark and H&M) were also captured to a t. Perfect. And the two brands didn't have to lift a finger at all to get this attention and social sharing.

Money can't buy you that kind of love.

For that they should say "thank you" to the joke. Because the joke is not on them...they should be smiling!

What's your experience?  JIM

Friday, April 1

March Madness, The Final Four, SU, and Pearl

I grew up in Syracuse, NY. A lot of people who grow up in rural (as in non mega-city areas) say that there wasn't a lot to do.

I disagree.

There was a lot to do. I skied at least twice a week during the long winter months. We hiked and swam in the short summer months. We had a great bar scene as I got older, thanks to the colleges. I had a ton of amazing friends.

And we had Syracuse University basketball.

Going to SU basketball games was the thrill of a (kid's) lifetime. They were basically always in the top 20, generally in the top 10, and often even higher than that. Crowds would top 25,000 spectators at the games. This in sleepy Central New York.

So you can imagine my thrill, all these years later, to see the team back in the Final Four during March Madness. While I have no time to follow the games anymore, I do see the feed on my social channels and it gives me great delight. Great delight.

I started noticing all this buzz about the team uniforms and "Pearl." I just had to investigate, if only for nostalgia purposes but also from a marketing perspective. I can't help myself. These are the Orangemen, after all, and why did they change their uniform? What's up?

The orange is still there but it turns out that "Pearl" is a former team mate...Pearl Washington. An iconic SU player from back in the day...I remember him! An icon at SU!

Well now he's suffering from cancer, and there's a Go Fund Me account set up to help cover his care. And his (former) team is there to help him raise awareness and raise funds. Just like he worked to raise the profile of the Team and the University during his time.

How fabulous. Using your exposure (the SU basketball team) to help a former teammate (Pearl) cope with a major health issue (cancer) while raising your brand in the meantime (Syracuse). Complete with the Nike swoosh.


Wishing you a thorough recovery, Pearl!

What's your experience? JIM