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.

Monday, April 3

This Eternal Optimist Has a New Theme Song


I am an eternal optimist. There I said it. And I'll own it. I always look on the bright side.  

I'm a marketer - how could I be anything but optimistic? My job is to build brands and you can't do that with pessimism. 

And I'm a dad - how could I be anything but optimistic? My job is to build the physical and emotional wellbeing of my children and you certainly can't do that with pessimism. 

I don't mean to sound Pollyanna. Let me tell you that I have faced criticism my entire professional life for being optimistic. I've been discounted many a time for being positive in the midst of a business storm. I've been accused of not recognizing problems. For me, the only point of talking about a problem is about how to fix it. See, optimistic!

I'll own it. I don't care - it's my brand. 

So you can imagine my sheer delight when I finally - finally - saw La La Land.

Talk about optimism! I was in my glory. I love looking at life through rose-colored glasses! A traffic jam should be an excuse to get out of your car to sing and dance. There really truly is nothing better than another day of sun.

At the route of optimism is the dream. You can't possibly dream if you aren't optimistic. You can't be optimistic if you don't have a dream you want to come true. City of Stars just may be my new theme song.



But I also think that what sparks the dream is struggle.  Struggle comes shining through in La La Land as well.  You can't dream without having to work hard for it. Really hard. Suffer even. For me, and for La La Land, adversity sparks intense optimism - because there's also a strong desire to get out of it. 

Trust me - I've been there. I was a divorced, single, gay dad long before any of it was discussed, accepted, or dare I say embraced. I heard the comments and felt the backstabs. I had to make major career choices to take care of my family and was criticized for it at the time. 

So don't take away my optimism. It's who I am and who I aspire to be. I want to live in La La Land where every day is a new possibility where no dream is to big. To tell you the truth, I'm already living there!

Are you an optimist? What's your experience?  JIM

PS - This article also appears on Huffington Post. Click here to read it there.  

The Brands of April Fool's Day

It seems like every year more and more brands get into the April Fool's Day action by putting out outlandish messaging in order to "fool" us. "Entertain" us is more like it.

And why shouldn't brands participate? It's a big moment in our pop culture, so if they want to be a part of our lives then they should participate...provided what they put out there is in keeping with their brand.

Time did a nice rundown of a lot of the activity this year. Click here to give it a read.

I do have a favorite. Not because it's the best or the most clever or the most creative or the most strategic. But just simply because it's the most "dog." Anything with a dog is going to get me...can't get enough of them.

Petlexa from Amazon. Amazon "introduced" a new version of its device Alexa for pets...Petlexa. You just gotta love it!



And I've just gotta give an honorable mention to Google Gnome, which falls in the same category. As an adjunct to its new Google Home device, Google launch Google Gnome, an outdoor version. Good for pets outdoors too, I suppose.


Happy April Fool's Day!  What's your experience? JIM

Friday, March 31

P&G #WeSeeEqual

File this under fabulous.


Just in time for International Women's Day this year, P&G released this powerful film to remind us that gender, age, sexual orientation, economic status, skill sets...you name it...don't really matter. Because no matter what, we are all equal. #WeSeeEqual.

Bravo! We should all see equal. Perfect timing, not just for International Women's Day.

Here's the film:


Sure, loaded with subtle (or not so subtle) references to the P&G product offering, but honestly there's nothing wrong with that. The brands are promoting a message of unity, equality, and hope.

Honestly, the product support makes the message stronger and more relevant to our day to day lives.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, March 30

How To Survive as a Brick & Mortar Retailer



Retailing has had a paradigm shift...and brick and mortar outlets are suffering as a result.

What's a retailer to do? Check out my article at Entrepreneur. comClick here to give it a read. 

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, March 29

One.Org World's Longest Video

Launched on International Women's Day, One.org is looking to create the world's longest video to promote education for women around the world. Because education can fight poverty.

130million girls didn't go to school today, because they didn't have the chance.

Every girl counts!

Here's the scoop:



Click here to read a little bit more. 

Eventually, the user-generated video (hopefully the world's longest) will be used to convince world leaders to make education a priority.

Join the count!

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, March 28

United Airlines and the Banned Leggings

One simple little tweet from an observer set off a fire storm of social media. The problem is that the tweet didn't contain all of the facts...a problem du jour with our news cycles and social media commentary.


In this case, the observer watched two young girls turned away at the gate from a United Airlines flight because they were wearing leggings. So she tweeted about it. United responded pretty quickly.

But neither party at first acknowledged that the girls and their family were flying for free, as part of an employee benefit program. And that said program comes with a dress code to maintain the image of the United brand and its employees. But that part of the story didn't come out in the beginning.

So social media took over.


Now we can argue that the policy makes no sense. But there is a policy in place, as part of the brand guidelines for United. And the employee(s) were simply following policy. And we know for a fact that airline employees are scrutinized for their behavior and adherence to policy.

The problem is that United Airlines didn't get in front of the controversy fast enough to explain the policy, outdated or not.

So social media took over.



There's a lesson to be learned here, well written in this article on Entrepreneur, where I too am quoted. Click here.

United has since gone on to explain itself, although hasn't spoken about revising the dress code to my knowledge. And that's their choice as a brand. But Delta did have something to say:


In the era of social media where anyone's observations can be quickly picked up to become news and a crisis, it's vitally important for brands to not only monitor what's being said but to then proactively communicate with transparency and honesty to avoid damaging their own reputation.

A lesson learned for us all.

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, March 27

Capital One and The Brackets

It's March Madness, and it's mad this year! I was at an airport yesterday and everyone was crowded near the bars to watch the big screens. And there were big screams happening up and down the runway, I can tell you that!

It's made for an interesting season for The Bracket Challenge "presented" by Capital One. The Brackets are big every year, and this year was a big one for the Sponsor. March Madness isn't the only sports gaming sponsorship by Capital One...they've also done Bowl Mania for all of the college football bowls among others.


It's smart engagement beyond a simple advertising sponsorship...Capital One is getting in the game right along with the fans who are banking on their picks winning. All for the bragging rights, as they say.

But the brand is doing more than just The Brackets this year with a campaign series during the games that is picking up all the buzz. Capital One is THE brand of March Madness with "This Is March Madness" featuring some familiar friends.


With multiple executions:


In some pretty funny moments:


This last one even has a blooper reel:


Fabulous engagement and a fabulous brand voice during a very engaging time of year! Best in class at play here!

Well done, Cap One!

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, March 23

Carrefour Italy - Baby Night

If you're going to really connect with your consumers, then you have to show them that you get them and that you get how they live their lives. And show them that you are there to help them in their points of pain.

Which is exactly what Carrefour in Italy did when they started "Baby Night."


Recognizing (and sympathizing) that new parents are often up all night with newborn babies, Carrefour launched a website that's only open from 1:00am - 5:00am. It specifically offers discounts on key baby items, and the discounts get deeper as the night goes on. The later you are up with your baby then the more you save.

Take a look at this video:


So smart; I wish I had thought of it myself! Not to mention that it's probably nearly impossible for these new parents to venture out of the house to go shopping at all.

Truly showing that this brand understands parents' lives, and is committed to somehow making it all easier.

Bravo!

What's your experience?  JIM

Wednesday, March 22

Can't Be Everything to Everybody


You simply can't be everything to everybody, not in marketing anyway.

See what I mean in my article for Entrepreneur.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM

Ben & Jerry's Goes Non-Dairy

If you're a Ben & Jerry's fan like me, it's hard to imagine a non-dairy version.  How could the brand not be about "real" ice cream? They basically invented this super premium category, at least in my
book, so how could they stray in any way?


But here we are with a non-dairy version, made with Almond Milk! 100% vegan! Given the roots of the brand and its founders, then that part makes total sense. I'm getting there.

It's everything but the cow, as they say.



I'll let these two influencers weigh in too:


Convinced? Give it a try? What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, March 21

Branded Easter

It's almost spring and it's almost Easter, so you know what that means...Easter marketing. Every year there's plenty of it, but this year we seem to be getting more new products than ever before, at least to my naked eye.

Like these delicious little nuggets from M&M's...M&M's Eggs:

Or this crazy-good collaboration with an Easter classic....Oreo Peeps:





Or this double take from Russell Stover chocolate and Jif peanut butter...break it, dip it, enjoy it:



I mean, does it get any better?

What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, March 19

What's Happening to Retail?!?

Every day we hear about more retail stores closing their doors?


What's going on? I tried to tackle the issue at Entrepreneur. Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, March 17

Canada Goose Goes Public

For the past several winters, there's been one prevailing logo on the streets, and this winter was no different...and with the massive snow storm hitting the east coast this week, the timing couldn't have been better.

Canada Goose. As in the winter coats from, well, Canada. With, well, goose down.


It certainly seems like a repeated overnight success, like the recent Hunter Boots hit from a few years ago when it was the "it" winter ingredient.


The Canada Goose company went public this week with much fanfare, following a string of successful seasons sparked by celebrity seeding, including the cover of Sports Illustrated. After just a day, the stock price rose 25%, marking the second biggest IPO of the year.


Investors were thrilled, I'm sure. Although not all of them. PETA also wants partial ownership, so that it can voice its concerns over the coyote fur used in the hoods and the goose feathers used in the lining.

Will we see more of this brand? Probably. Will it expand its product line like others before it? Likely. Will it have some issues to manage along the way? Definitely, as most successful brands do.

It'll be fascinating to watch how the brand markets its way along the way.

What's your experience? JIM