Friday, May 26

Microsoft and STEM


STEM? That's a new one for me. At first glance, I thought it might be referring to stem cell research.

Nope.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Oh.

In honor of International Women's Day this year, Microsoft is encouraging young women to pursue careers in STEM.

I see.

As the brand says...

"What if she could be the one to find the cure, crack the code, or invent something that has the potential to save lives? When we encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we double the potential to solve problems. If she stays in STEM, she could be the one to change the world."

As a dad, I'd have to agree. As a human being, I sure hope it happens. And as a marketer, I know it's important for a brand to give back. To support something that will help our communities. And to stay true to what you are all about. Like in this case, STEM.

All a part of Microsoft's #MakeWhatsNext campaign. Click here to see more, and watch this...




What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, May 25

Belt and Suspenders

Our current climate has left most of us feeling, well, insecure. These times call for belt and suspenders. See what I mean in my post on Entrepreneur. Click here to give it a read.

Thanks! What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, May 23

#MyOreoCreation


Iconic brand Oreo is running a new crowd sourcing program called #MyOreoCreation. It's a simple contest where consumers can send in new flavor or flavor combination ideas to the brand for consideration.


Not a new idea by any stretch, but with multiple ways of entering that reflect how people communicate today: you can enter via text or Twitter or Instagram or by responding to a social post or simply by registering on the contest site.

Couldn't be easier. We shall see what they come up with.

One of my fav ideas ever created via crowd sourcing was Sticky Toffee Pudding for Haagen-Dazs back in the day. It happened to be invented by a colleague at the time. It was fabulous.


Maybe this new Oreo will take the cake. Or the cookie. Or the ice cream.

What's your experience? JIM.

Gillete Encourages Guys to "Go Ask Dad"



As a continuation of its campaign from last year, Gillette is again honoring fathers and their relationships with their sons with round two of "Go Ask Dad," just in time for Father's Day. I say BRAVO.

I wrote about it on HuffPost, and you can read it there by clicking here.

What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, May 21

Graduation Shout Out!


If you've been to a graduation recently, then you know what I'm talking about. And I'm talking about it on HuffPost.  

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, May 18

Monopoly Token


I will admit that when I first heard about this program back in March, I was kinda intrigued. But then it kinda fell off my radar. But that doesn't mean I don't kinda love it.

The iconic board game Monopoly from Hasbro decided to "refresh" its token pieces. Instead of just going about it themselves, they asked consumers to choose which ones to boot and which ones to add. Well along with the thimble and the wheelbarrow, the boot got the boot. But the brand added a rubber ducky, T-Rex, and a penguin. I guess the hashtag didn't get enough votes.

The pieces didn't go quietly though, as rabid fans worked hard to keep the classics alive. But alas, progress prevailed.

Still not sure why the hashtag didn't win.

Clever. Not only to refresh the classics, but to ask folks to contribute. Great engagement. Got me thinking about playing again, which is exactly the point.

Have you played lately? What's your experience? JIM

A Resurgence of Crowd Sourcing


We're seeing a resurgence of brands using crowd sourcing to co-create ideas...something I explored on Entrepreneur. Click here to give it a read.  What's your experience?  JIM

Tuesday, May 16

Will & Grace Returns!

To say that the television show Will & Grace had a profound effect on my adult life would be a huge understatement. The show was a breakout and a breakthrough at the time, shortly after I had myself come out as a gay man...in my 30's!


I chronicled it all in my book Out and About Dad. This was really the first television show (or really any pop culture venue) that portrayed gay people as normal, if that's a word that ever really applies to anything. Will was someone we could finally aspire to be like. He was a successful, happy, loyal, and yes normal man...who happened to be gay. With great, normal relationships with interesting "characters" in his life. A breakthrough! And Grace was the person you always wanted to be around because she accepted you for who you are, and vice versa.

And the show, I believe as a result, was an instant hit. It was part of the then "must see tv" from NBC. A breakout!

Will & Grace gave me permission to tell people that I too am gay. That was huge for me, you have no idea. Especially at that time in our culture. Perhaps we need it again in our culture.

Yes I came out as an adult before Will & Grace, and even before Ellen for that matter, but I hadn't told everyone. So their adventures certainly opened me to accept and embrace my own. And for that I am eternally grateful to all involved.

Well the good news is that the revolutionary show is coming back.


I for one can't wait...not only for the nostalgia but also for the cultural impact I know is about to happen again. Yes, history can repeat itself, although I'm betting it'll do so differently.

Here's the new trailer to get us all excited:


Yes, it's as if they never said goodbye.

I have a profound feeling that all those involved will be helping a lot more people, again. After all, laughter is the best medicine. And healer. And channel to acceptance.

Must see television all over again?!?

Thank you!  What's your experience? JIM.

Amazon Echo Look


We knew when Amazon Echo and Google Home hit the market sphere that we were gearing up for a paradigm shift of epic proportions. The minute I saw it, I knew the possibilities were endless...as seen in this April Fool's joke from Amazon "PetLexa:"


But honestly, this is no joke. The possibilities for how this technology can enhance our lives is endless. This one is for real...Echo Look for picking our fashionable outfits every day:



But the really cool part is that Echo Look has a bunch of other features like 360 fashion views, storing of outfits so you don't wear the same thing twice, and instant Instagram photo perfection. There's also a "Style Check" feature where using data and stylists, you can compare two outfits and Echo Look will tell you which is better on you. And of course you can buy outfits via Amazon too.

Incredible. This will only go as far as our imagination will take us.

Like this parody from SNL this week:


Let's watch this all explode! What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, May 14

Thursday, May 11

New Dove Body-Type Bottles



For years now, Dove has stood for "real beauty" as told by their enduring and highly successful marketing campaign. It's everyone's "case study" and it comes up in my class at NYU semester after semester after semester. It made headlines at launch, and continues to make headlines at each major step of its rollout.

This week was no exception, when Dove launched a new line of packaging to represent various female body types. Beyond retail displays, I believe this is the first time the brand has used its packaging as part of the "real beauty" campaign.

Let's just say the reaction was swift and definitive. No go. I'm a big fan of the brand...the entire line. I'm sure they had no idea the reaction would be so fast.

Here's just one that was shared over and over again:


I can see where the brand was going...apparently women didn't want to follow. At least if the initial social reaction is any indication.

What's your experience? JIM

Volkswagen Atlas "Luv Bug"


I remember when the Volkswagen "Beetle" first came to the states...it was a sensation. I immediately marveled at the novelty. This new film from Volkswagen Atlas (the latest Bettle aka Luv Bug) just makes me smile.

Well it looks like we've all grown up since then, even the "Luv Bug!"



C'mon, admit it, that made you smile! What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, May 10

Share a Coke Continues


Coca-Coa is continuing it's now epic effort of including names on its packaging. The brand has been breathing new life into this campaign since it first launched in 2011 when it first started with first names. So shareable...not only the bottle but the social content. Share a Coke!

This year it's launching common last names. I guess I'm covered either way!


And in the UK, it's also introducing popular vacation destinations. Will this ever end? Hope not!


Epic. Yo quiero Miami.  What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, May 7

Kraft Mac & Cheese - Swear Like a Mother


These days more than ever, it's important for a brand to show that it understands what its consumers are going through. If a brand wants engagement, then it has to show empathy and authenticity.

Which is exactly what Kraft Mac & Cheese is doing with this Mother's Day spot. It's based on a stat that 74% of moms admit to swearing in front of their kids. And it poses a question: What are the other 26% doing?

Indeed.


Another stat...moms swear more than dads. Hmm. So the brand is offering some advice, from a well known influencer (and author) in the space.

But there's more...Moms (and I guess their kids) can go to swearlikeamother.com to download a free Mother's Day card, with creative curse words ala the video I suppose.

Was this a risk? Linking swearing with motherhood? Sure was, but hey, parenting is a risk so why not show what life is really like! Can't you just hear the critique as you read this?!? But for me, it's real life and real engagement.

What's your experience? JIM

Marketing New York State


The "I Love New York" campaign is, to me, best in class. When I saw the latest film from the State, I just had to write about it. On HuffPost. Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, May 5

Doritos and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Movie promotions are not necessarily new...nor our big brand partnerships with said movie promotions. We've probably seen it all. Or have we?

I'm totally intrigued by the co-promote between Doritos and the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

You can literally buy a bag of Doritos with a built in cassette player (yes, cassette player as in 1980's and as in the movie) to listen to the full movie soundtrack? Cool or what?

This just part of an entire campaign linking the brand with the new movie that includes product codes you can pull from bags of Doritos to enter an online contest. 

This isn't the first time this category or Frito Lay (who makes Doritos) has used their packaging to add a great consumer experience. For the Super Bowl this year, sister brand Tostitos added a breathalyser to its bag so that consumers could see if it was safe for them to drive. If not, they can tap the bag with their mobile phone to call an Uber. Pretty brilliant.


All in a bag of chips. Limited edition bags of chips. And I'm sure there's more to come where that came from! What's your experience?  JIM

Thursday, May 4

IKEA Hat

Just a fashion trend minute ago, we witnessed prestige brand Balenciaga's reinterpretation of the classic IKEA blue bag...turned into a runway piece. Pretty fab.


Well now another re-imagination is hitting the street...in the form of head ware.


Yes, a LA-based company has brought this hat to life, albeit at a much more affordable price point of under $50 (compared to $2,000+ for the Balenciaga bag).

This one is more overtly branded, and literally uses the same material as our IKEA fav.

To my knowledge, the brand has yet to respond to this one although quite honestly I am quite sure it's quite flattered. To reach such iconic status that classic elements of your brand reach such devotion is hard to complain about. I am sure there are legal issues abound, but from a branding perspective it doesn't get much better than this. Especially when retail is hitting an all time low. Perhaps not for IKEA!

Well I'm off to work, IKEA bag in tow.  What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, May 3

How to Avoid Being Tone Deaf


Tone deaf is a word that's been popping up a lot lately. I decided to explore it via HuffPost. Click here to give it a read.  

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, May 2

Taking on a Social Issue, Authentically, in "Open Your World"

The new campaign from Heineken has folks talking about whether or not a brand should take on a social issue. Click here to read my POV via HuffPost. 

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, April 28

#LaptopLifestyle


To me, there's a whole new meaning to the term "Laptop Lifestyle," so I explored the topic on HuffPost. Click here to read it there.

What's your experience? JIM

Baby Dove



The Dove brand just sent me this moving piece of content for its new line of baby products...Baby Dove.  It features dads. #RealDads.


My first job in brand management was on Johnson's Baby Products back in the late '80's, so you can imagine how excited I am to see this. Back in the day, we didn't culturally really recognize dads in the marketing baby picture and I wasn't even a dad yet myself.

I recently attended and spoke at the Dad 2.0 Summit where Dove Men+Care was a title sponsor. The support from the brand for dads was and continues to be incredible. As a community of fathers, we've never seen so much support before. So you can imagine how excited I am to see this.

And most importantly, I am a dad. Granted my kids are older now, both graduating from graduate school and undergrad college respectively this May, but I'm still a dad. Most of the time I was raising them, there was very little if any acknowledgement of the role that dads play in the physical and emotional well being of our children. Little if any from those around us and little if any from the brands we were using.

Quite the contrary, back then dads were portrayed societally as bumbly fumbly fools who couldn't handle the rigors of parenting. Babysitting, maybe, but just for a few hours if absolutely necessary. Mowing the lawn, absolutely necessary.  So you can imagine how excited I am to see this.

Times have changed, thankfully.

What I love about this film more than anything is the simplicity of the messaging. No complicated or polarizing politics or social statements. No long winded list of product benefits. Simply dads bonding and caring for their kids...in their own style, in the manner that feels natural and real to them.

#RealDads. On brand, certainly.

Because as long as there's love and caring, it doesn't matter how you parent. On point, certainly.

Thank you Baby Dove! What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, April 27

Nespresso and George Clooney


Nespresso launched a new piece of advertising yesterday morning...this is hot off the presses. One of my students at NYU clued me in so I clicked in as soon as I could.

It's a collaboration with George Clooney...yes Hollywood George Clooney, who we don't really see endorse many products. At least not a ton in the US.

Well it turns out that good 'ole George has been working with the brand for over ten years, as an international spokesperson.


He's been a coffee lover since he was a kid, and he's a big fan of the brand. And it seems like he's pretty deeply embedded, at least according to this behind the scenes footage:


In the creative execution, he shows that he's such a Nespresso lover that he'll travel great lengths to get a custom cup...all through the history of Hollywood even:


Cute, clever, great cinematic style. Very Hollywood for sure. But impressive more than anything is his commitment to the brand. He's not just a paid spokesperson, but truly a brand ambassador.

This isn't his first Hollywood turn with the brand by any means. Here's last year's take with Danny Devito:


I don't see any references to George on the brand's site and not a lot on their Facebook page other than a post, so it'll be interesting to see if this becomes a more integrated part of their overall brand campaign across outlets.

Then we'll really see that Hollywood marketing magic across channels.

What's your experience? JIM

PS - for a little fun, here's another behind the scenes reel from when they were shooting the footage:


Wednesday, April 26

Balenciaga's "IKEA Bag"

After chatting about Jeff Koon's new line for Louis Vuitton, it seems all too appropriate to also comment on this new bag from Balenciaga.





Although retailing for over $2,000, it strikes a noticeable resemblance to the classic bag from IKEA that retails for $.99.



Now while Balenciaga has not publicly made the connection, certainly IKEA has with this cute little ditty that seems to be in response:


I've gotta say as a recurrent and loyal user of the IKEA bag for just about everything (I lived with them when my kids were younger), I love the new Balenciaga bag too. The only thing I love more is the ad from IKEA...because of their sense of humor and their sense of their own placement in our world of pop culture.

Bravo on all fronts. What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, April 25

Burger King and Google

This is kinda sorta an update post from yesterday's commentary about McDonald's and Coca-Cola, and how the brand used "search" as a vehicle for compelling brand messaging.

This time we're talking about rival Burger King and search guru Google, and a piece of advertising that the Burger King brand created in order to interact with the viewers' Home device via Google (note the capital "H").


It's a pretty timely gameplan...to show connectivity of messaging and to use search to educate on product features. Kinda sorta like what McDonald's did with Coca-Cola.

But I'm not sure folks appreciated the Burger King version as much. Google disabled the functionality within hours, and Wikipedia had to lock the Burger King filing to stop the immediate hacking that started.

All in a day...a marketing day that is.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 24

McDonald's and Coke


So many people reached out to me last week to tell me about this new campaign. And yes, of course, it came up in my integrated marketing class at NYU when we talk each week about new marketing activity of interest.

This one has a lot of interest.

Why? Because it's rooted in such an insight...an urban myth actually. And it never states the brand name -- a shocker given the magnitude of this particular brand name. And it links our known search activity/obsession to this brand's messaging, using one mega brand to help another, working to drive traffic to a retail establishment...


(there are actual a few videos, but I'm just posting one)

...in this case McDonald's. With better tasting Coke! Wow! No small fact that much of the QSR (quick service restaurant) industry profits come from beverage sales, so no small surprise that they'd use this beverage mega brand to drive traffic. With a "known" product benefit: better tasting Coca-Cola. Hmm.

It's quite brilliant, don't you agree? What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, April 21

What We Can Learn From United


Normally I would say to get out in front of a brand crisis. “Take the lead and control the messaging,” is the advice I would normally give to a brand facing an issue in reputation management.

But in the case of United Airlines and their recent woes (as well as some other brands), I instead say to take a step back. Sure, there should still be communication on a timely and proactive basis, because “going dark” in these situations wouldn’t be a smart move. But on a parallel path, I would recommend that any brand take a step back and examine its policies and procedures to try to stop these kinds of issues from forming in the first place.

“Taking a step back” isn’t just for big brands in crisis. Anyone who manages a brand can apply this thinking. Here are some thoughts:

Examine Your Policies:  We are finding lately that company policies are potentially creating these situations of conflict. With different policies in place, perhaps these conflicts wouldn’t be happening. Maybe that’s purposeful, but if that’s not the case then the company should examine and potentially change those policies in question. In some cases they may just be outdated, or not in line with newly evolved norms for an industry. Take a hard look.

Align Them With Your Brand Offering: While reviewing those company policies, make sure that they still align with what your brand is all about. If not, then change them. And perhaps even more importantly, make sure they align with your customers’ expectations. If not, then make a conscious decision about making them align. For example, if your brand is all about supreme customer service and your customers have high expectations, then your policies had better put your customers’ needs first. I would always advocate putting your customers first.

Train Your Employees: Stating the obvious here, but it’s vitally important to not only let your employees know about said policies, but also train how to enforce and flex them. They should be given a certain amount of latitude in how they apply them. We’ve seen how much strict adherence can create situations that can damage the brand. Give your employees some space and let them become brand ambassadors as well as policy enforcers. Let them make their own good decisions.

Marketing is a spectator sport. There’s a lot to be learned watching the activity of other brands, particularly when it comes to upholding your image and reputation. 

We’ve been learning a lot of that lately. 

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Tuesday, April 18

#MakeADogsDay #OptOutside #BlackFriday

I just love watching how seemingly unrelated brands can come together to not only do good marketing, but to do good.

This post is a follow up to yesterday's #MakeADogsDay campaign I featured from Subaru. But this time Subaru has partnered with REI, the now famous retailer who closed its doors on Black Friday and encouraged everyone to #OptOutside. Now they want you to take your dogs outside too.

Subaru and REI have put together #MakeADogsBlackFriday, along with the ASPCA:


Subaru has long been about dogs, and REI has long been about outdoors. Perfect combination, getting dogs outside and saving many of them in the process.

Bravo!  What's your experience? JIM


#MakeADogsDay


This campaign from Subaru is simply the best. Better than all the rest.

#MakeADogsDay. Think of it as giving your dog a personal bucket list for the day.

Subaru invited people to upload content where they were treating their dogs to the best of the best for the day...in an attempt to raise awareness for adoption of shelter dogs. Doggie massages, charbroiled steak, play dates with their best friends...you get the point I am sure.

And then the brand gave some shelter dogs a grand experience for the day, in attempt to get them placed into homes pronto.


Pretty spectacular. Click here to see more of the campaign, from the agency's website.

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, April 17

Peep Show


This will down right make you smile, or at least it sure did for me. Not only am I a fan of the brand, I also marvel at how it's gotten streamed into our pop culture.

Peeps. As in the marshmallow candy, most prominent in the Easter time frame.

Well for the last 10 years, The Carroll County Arts Council holds an annual "Peep Show" where amazing works of art are displayed, all created with Peeps.


Online voters can cast a vote for "best in show" for the cost of $1.00, which goes towards benefiting the Council.


Just some great fun, for a good cause, with an amazingly and constantly relevant brand!


What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, April 13

Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons


This is just so interesting that I just have to write about it.

Louis Vuitton has done several creative collaborations, to much fashion acclaim and commercial success. But this new one with Jeff Koons (legendary pop culture artist) is dramatically different and very, well, dramatic.


It's called The Masters Series and it pays tribute to the great masters of art, putting many beloved masterworks back into pop culture. You can read about it here.


It's an incredible mix of eye candy, lesson in art history, and over-the-top fashion. And of course it debuted at Louvre Museum in none other than Paris, right where many of these works live on forever. Where else?

Amazing. What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, April 11

Three Things to Learn from Pepsi


Pepsi found itself in a heap of hot water this week. What can we learn from it?

I took a stab at EntrepreneurClick here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM

How Will United Get Past This?

Click here to read the article I wrote for Huffington Post on the recent United Airlines situation.

How will United get past this?

What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, April 9

Disney Couture

(this article also appears on Huffington Post - click here to read it there)

#Brilliant. #WhatTookYouSoLong. The Dress Shop on Cherry Tree Lane...at Disney World.


Disney recently opened a fashion boutique selling women’s clothing inspired by Disney characters. But we’re not talking Halloween costumes and we are definitely not talking children’s clothing here. This is real fashion but with an understated, discrete, and tasteful Disney twist.

Dresses with a hint of princess, shall we say, made from fabrics with a spoon full of sugar.


Prices circle around $100, so it's certainly not high end couture, but it's still very cool. 

So far, the line is only available at one boutique in Disney World, but I’m betting that’s because it’s all just getting started. Selected pieces will also be available online, and some will be making their appearance at some larger Disney Stores.

It’s only a matter of time, from the company famous for tales as old as time.

#Brilliant. #WhatTookYouSoLong.

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, April 7

Leveraging Your Brand Heritage

I recently wrote an article for Entrepreneur about the new Carl's Jr. campaign. Carl Sr. comes back and "gives it to" Carl Jr. for the way he's been marketing the brand.

I believe it's a good lesson in how to leverage your brand heritage.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, April 6

Pepsi - Oh My


I'm a big believer that marketing is a spectator sport...meaning we can learn from what brands do in the marketplace.

So let's learn from the recent film from Pepsi and Kendall Jenner. A small piece of marketing that sparked a huge backlash almost instantaneously.


Have we not learned from Starbucks and #RaceTogether?

Sure, I have been saying for years that it's perfectly fine for brands to take a social stand. Provided the brand stays true to itself and provided it stays within what's relevant coming from the brand. And provided that it's culturally relevant and appropriate. Not easy things to figure out for sure.

But let's be honest...no one brand can solve an issue as big as race. Or discrimination. Or prejudice. So no one brand should ever try.

Sure, a brand can contribute to a conversation but it can't solve it. And that, I believe, is the miss here. Pepsi tried to show that one simple can of soda can unite the world. Starbucks tried to show that one simple cup of coffee can bring people together to talk. But it's just not that simple.

So no one brand should ever try.

It's fine to say you'll contribute to a solution, but it's quite another to say that you'll make it go away. That's just simply insincere and inappropriate. And makes it look like all you care about is selling product.

Which is the last thing you want to do in marketing, particularly now.

And one quick note about Kendall Jenner. I'm neither a Kardashian fan or foe, but I have to say that she's not as innocent here as many are crediting her. She should have taken a hard look at this campaign ahead of time and she should have made a decision on whether to participate or not. It's not just a "job" but a social statement. She should have made a more conscious decision IMHO.

Let's learn from this! What's your experience? JIM

PS - This post also appears on Huffington Post so click here if you prefer to read it there.