Monday, October 31

Caramel M&Ms

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

Thursday, October 27

Market Like You Give a Damn

I've been at the Holmes Global PR Summit this week, it was the fifth year for the Summit and it gets better every year! I love the theme and hashtag...@PRovoke16!

As an agency, we really enjoy participating and I personally find it exhilarating to be around our industry's finest. So inspiring.

This year for our contribution, we tackled the topic of Building Human Brands and our guest was author Afdhel Aziz who just released his book Good is the New Cool, Market Like You Give a Damn.

Market Like You Give A Damn. BTW, that is exactly what makes you (as a brand) human.

Afdhel has turned CSR on its head...with a call to action to make sure that as marketers we don't just advertise but we solve a problem. Intriguing and inspiring at the same time.

The question is...what problem? Epic? Everyday? Politically polarizing? Socially risky?

Your brand must be the judge on this question, based on your brand values, offering, and consumer desires.

We talked about Citi-Bikes, Facebook, Kenneth Cole, Skittles, Target, the NBA, and Coca-Cola among other great brands doing great work in this space.

Here's our session, if you'd like to take a look, and learn some more. Click here to get a view.

Or if you prefer the written word, click here to get a read.

Think about... how can you market like you give a damn? What problem can you solve? What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, October 26

Bud Light - With Your Team

There is no question that sports and music are two of the most unifying forces on the planet. They entertain us, they bring us together, and they give us a common bond.

Coca-Cola knows this...which is why it put song lyrics on its bottles and cans.

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!

Very cool. What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, October 25

Lego Shopping Bag

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.

What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, October 23

Those Aren't Your Kids

I wrote this blog post for a way of showing that there are all kinds of parenting, and we shouldn't deny anyone the respect of being a great parent.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM

PS - If you want to check out my new book on my journey as a father, click here. Thanks!

Friday, October 14

Driscoll's - Once in a Hundred Years

Every once in awhile a brand needs a makeover...this one took a hundred years! But it was based on an emotional benefit that no other product in the category could muster.

Meet Driscoll's berries...and read about the brand in my Entrepreneur article.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, October 13

Samsung Safety

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'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.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, October 12

CoverGirl's First CoverBoy

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.

Well done.  What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, October 7

Weather or Not Campbell's

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 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, 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.

What's your experience? JIM

Swipe to the Beat - Tinder & Spotify

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)

What's your experience? JIM

P.S. - What's your personal anthem?

Thursday, October 6

Brand Character in the Presidential Election

(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 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.

Wednesday, October 5

"Awesome" is My Most Overused Word

I use the word "awesome" all day long. It's one of my favorite words. It's just so expressive. It's got emotion, it's got energy, and it's hugely complimentary. To say that someone or something is "awesome" is to give it the highest compliment. At least in my book.

But I worry that I use it too much, and it may start to lose its meaning. So I started paying a bit more attention to see if I could pick up a few other words to use instead of "awesome."

Awesomesauce. "Awesomesauce" is when something or someone is more awesome than "awesome." I get it. I'll try it but it's a bit awkward.

Slay. "Slay" is a bit more versatile because it's a verb that can take many forms. You can "slay" something or you can have "slayed" it or you could be "slaying" it right now. To "slay" is to really overachieve...when you nail it you slay it. I'm worried that it's a bit trendy and I'll sound like I'm trying too hard. Beyonce can "slay" but I'm not sure that I can. But I'll give it a try and see if anyone laughs me out of the room.

#GOAT. This is by far my favorite because it's a hashtag, and who doesn't like to communicate in hashtags. Well, I know a lot of people who don't but that's besides the point. Hashtags are quick and easy ways of communicating a full thought. This one...#GOAT...stands for "Greatest of All Time." What's not to love?!? But will it be around long enough for me to be able to use it?

Any others out there I should know? What's your experience?  Perhaps I'll just stick with "awesome!" JIM.

Monday, October 3

The Big Debate - in Automotive

It's been fun watching brands use this year's Presidential campaign, and all the drama, as the basis for new campaigns. I just love when pop culture influences brand activity, and hopefully vice versa. We've seen it in a few categories, with automotive among them.

So let's take a look at a couple automotive brands, and how they're using the current climate to drive consumer connections.

First up is Audi, who released this video right before the Presidential debates. The production is insane, as is the storyline. The ending is just about right, given the never-ending theme this year.

"Beautiful things are worth fighting for." Notice that it was a man and a woman "dueling?" There are no coincidences in marketing my friends! But it is true, some things are worth fighting for, for sure.

Another timely example comes from Jeep...

"What unites us is stronger than what divides us." Truer words were never spoken, especially this year.

Notice how neither brand is "taking sides," or advocating one way or the other...simply asking us to make a choice.

Can't wait to check out other categories and how they are using the election to their creative advantage.

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

Brands that are Reversing the Negativity about Women

All this election trash talk has my head in a spin...especially as a father.

So as a marketer, I thought I'd highlight three retail brands that are trying to reverse it...H&M, TJ Maxx, and Lane Bryant, each in their own way.

Give a click here to read it on Huffington Post.

What's your experience? JIM